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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – In response to a shortage of certified middle-grade teachers in Rhode Island, Rhode Island College’s Feinstein School of Education and Human Development (FSEHD) has launched a Certificate of Graduate Studies (C.G.S.) in Middle-Level Education, which meets the Rhode Island Department of Education’s (RIDE) Middle Grades Certification. RIC is the only public institution of higher learning in the state to meet this need at the post-baccalaureate level.
Initiated by Professor John Niska, coordinator of RIC’s middle-level program, the C.G.S. in Middle-Level Education is meant to fill a critical gap in teacher education. Niska indicated that teachers of middle-grade students (10-to-15-year-olds) need to be trained to work with early adolescents, and a Secondary or Elementary Teaching Certificate is not adequate.
“There are major developmental changes for early adolescents,” he said. “A huge part of their focus is social and emotional. To be effective in the classroom, you need to understand this developmental stage. You also need to understand the structure of the middle school and such components as the interdisciplinary team and advisory.”
To enroll in this program, students must have earned a bachelor’s degree along with either a Secondary Teaching Certificate or an Elementary Teaching Certificate, with at least 21 hours of designated coursework and successful completion of the Middle Grades Praxis Content Test.
They take a four-course sequence – Teaching and Learning at the Middle-Level, Curriculum and Organization of Middle-Level Schools, Application of Middle-Level Instructional Models and Practicum in Middle-Level Instruction – that addresses the eight RIDE Middle Grades Competencies and the five Association of Middle-Level Educators Standards.
In addition, they are required to engage in practicums, translating the theoretical knowledge they learned in class into best practices in a middle-level classroom. Although RIDE only requires 45 hours of practicum, RIC students complete a total of 68, exceeding the RIDE requirement.
In addition to the C.G.S. in Middle Level Education, RIC offers C.G.S. programs in Advanced Counseling, Autism Education, Middle-Secondary-Level Special Education, Physical Education and Severe Intellectual Disabilities.
The School of Education at Rhode Island College has a long history of preparing teachers and other professionals to meet the educational needs of the state. With more than 20 initial licensure programs, more than 20 advanced graduate programs for educators and counselors and a laboratory school – Henry Barnard School – for pre-K through fifth-grade pupils, RIC is the major educator of the state’s elementary, middle and high school teachers.
FSEHD has a growing off-campus presence as well that includes several partnerships with community organizations, and RIC students contribute approximately 17,000 volunteer tutoring hours a year within the Feinstein Service Learning Program.
For more information visit www.ric.edu/feinsteinschooleducationhumandevelopment/.
Established in Providence in 1854, Rhode Island College serves approximately 9,000 graduate and undergraduate students through its five schools: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Social Work, the School of Management and the School of Nursing. For more information, visit www.ric.edu.
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