Future education majors to face more selective admission

Starting in 2015, prospective students looking to attend a SUNY school like Buffalo State for teaching will face tougher academic standards than their predecessors.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the new standards on Sept. 23 after the SUNY Board of Trustees approved the measures as a way to streamline entrance into SUNY teaching programs. SUNY currently features 17 teaching programs, all with their own standards for admission.

According to details released by Cuomo’s office, incoming freshman in teaching programs throughout SUNY will now face an entrance exam meant to make sure they are at or near the top of their class. Students wishing to enroll in teaching and principal preparation programs will also need to have a minimum GPA of 3.0.

“The quality of New York’s higher education system depends on having the best and brightest teachers in our classrooms teaching our students,” Cuomo said in a press release. “These new admission requirements will help ensure that we are recruiting from exceptional candidates to educate our state’s students. I applaud this action by SUNY to continue striving for higher standards and better results.”

There are some issues with the new standards, said Dean of Education Wendy Paterson. Too much emphasis is put on the requirements to get into the program, she said.

“My issue with having the standards set at the front door is that I have read a significant body of research that doesn’t support the idea that inputs guarantee outputs,” she said.

To be a competent teacher in New York, a student goes through numerous steps, Paterson said.

“There’s a rigorous curriculum,” she said. “They’re in schools for hours before they student teach doing research and service learning.”

Prospective teachers put in much more work than is required to maintain a 3.0 GPA, Paterson said. Being able to communicate information is the key.

“That, you can’t judge with a GPA,” she said. “Really, you can’t. That you can only judge through practice.”

Buffalo State is in the process of looking at data on teaching candidates, Paterson said. The school wants to support as many students as are interested in pursuing teaching careers.

“Our attitude is that qualification at the beginning of the program isn’t as important as where you stand at the end,” she said.

For instance, a sophomore with a 2.5 GPA who decides to go into teaching would still receive support from the school to go into education, Paterson said.

“We are currently working on how we are going to transition students,” she said. “The college is committed to support students who want to be teachers to reach that threshold measure.”

Transfer students will also need support, Paterson said, as they will also face the new 3.0 threshold for acceptance into the program.

“We’ll work with our two-year colleges to be sure that they get support so that they can continue to send us promising candidates for teaching,” Paterson said.

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