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Teacher Licensing Waivers Bill Met With Hesitation In The House

Peter Balonon-Rosen

Lawmakers are giving mixed input on a bill about teacher licensing waivers, and members of a House committee shared concerns about the proposal during a meeting Thursday.

Some educators say difficult licensing exams play a role in the state's teacher shortage, and Senate Bill 387 would let teachers with high grades in their prep courses waive the licensing exam if they try – and fail – the exam at least twice. It also requires that those teachers participate in a state mentorship and assessment program, and achieve at least half of their professional development and growth requirements before renewing their license.

But House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) says the state should address the issue from many angles.

"We need to try to help those students who have struggles with it today, but I would hate that to be a permanent fix," Behning says.

Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero), echoed those statements, sharing his own doubts about the bill.

"I have some hesitancy of placing certain teachers that are not licensed into classrooms, that can't pass minimal exams," Cook says.

Cook and Behning say the state should focus more on how colleges prepare students for the tests, and look at the test itself. The bill's author Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) agrees, and says this is just a start to address an immediate need.

"We are in a short session, I had to pick and choose I guess the battles a little bit," Zay says.

The committee will vote on the bill next week.

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