The Michigan State University Teacher Preparation Program is moving from a five-year to a four-year model, beginning in fall 2023.
The new model is a reshaped version of the well-regarded undergraduate program. It will maintain core elements — including the yearlong internship and curriculum centered on social justice and equity — but will become more affordable as a four-year program.
“The new Teacher Preparation Program is attentive to our college’s commitment to accessible, equitable and high-quality education and to the growing teacher shortage,” said Jerlando F.L. Jackson, dean of the College of Education. “We want to be both responsive to needs in our community and of our students, and to also continue our legacy of producing outstanding, well-prepared educators who are ready to lead in K-12 classrooms.”
By eliminating the fifth year, MSU is saving Teacher Preparation Program candidates an estimated $16,700 in tuition alone, and thousands more in travel and living expenses. In comparison to other institutions with four-year models, the cost of MSU’s program was a financial challenge for many.
The change also addresses a concerning teacher-shortage trend. In 2021, research from MSU’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative, the Michigan Department of Education and the Center for Educational Performance and Information found that more Michigan teachers exited the profession than entered, and new teachers were less likely to renew their teaching certificates.
“Teachers of exceptional quality are needed in schools across the state and nation — and MSU has a longstanding history of producing outstanding educators,” said MSU Interim Provost Designee Thomas Jeitschko. “I am proud of the ways in which MSU supports our students who choose this essential profession as their career, including with this progressive update to their preparation.”
With the new model, College of Education leaders are taking the opportunity not only to meet new and forthcoming state certification requirements but also to allow new teachers to enter classrooms sooner. Each adjustment was made with inclusivity and accessibility at the forefront, including a curriculum that prepares educators in supporting students with disabilities and bilingual learners.
“We continue to work as scholars and educators to be innovative and responsive in our work,” said Tonya Bartell, associate director of MSU’s elementary education program. “Our research is helping inform these changes.”
Current first- and second-year students are eligible to transition to the new model in spring 2023. Incoming students for fall 2023 will enter the four-year model.
A new chapter
Teacher Preparation Program leaders, including Director Gail Richmond, Associate Directors Bartell (elementary education) and Kyle Greenwalt (secondary education) and Director of Special Education Emily Bouck, say the changes signal a new chapter in the college.
They believe the four-year model is taking the best of what MSU is known for — immersive and frequent experiences in K-12 classrooms and rigorous curricula that focus on supporting learners of all backgrounds — and adapting it to meet the education field where it is today.
“When looking at how to reshape our program, we wanted to identify and eliminate every barrier while also maintaining the strength of our program,” Greenwalt said. “These changes are a significant step in the right direction.”