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Revised Certification Structure

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE), in collaboration with stakeholders, has been working to revise Michigan’s teacher certification structure and improve the preparation of the educator workforce. This is in direct alignment with the MDE’s Strategic Plan for becoming a Top Ten education state within ten years. 

This collaboration has led to the design of a structure that places students at the heart of the system. A key goal of this structure is deeper preparation of teachers to meet the unique learning needs of children at each grade level, particularly in early literacy. Attached is a simplified graphic that depicts the revised certification structure. The structure includes: focused grade bands to provide new teachers with specialized knowledge about the students and content they will teach; defined clinical experiences and foundational coursework for each grade band; unique preparation for instructing children at each developmental level, including middle level learners; and enhanced content knowledge preparation for middle school teachers to award high school credit. 

The endorsements in the new system now reflect more closely the content in which educators were prepared and equip LEAs with the knowledge to assign an appropriately prepared and endorsed teacher to meet student needs. 

Implementation Timeline

Overview

There are 5 grade bands:

  • Birth through Kindergarten (B-K)
  • Prekindergarten (PreK) through Grade 3 (PreK-3)
  • Grades 3 through 6
  • Grades 5 through 9
  • Grades 7 through 12

Some endorsements encompass multiple grade bands, including Prekindergarten through Grade 12. The preparation for each of these grade bands includes content area coursework, foundational and professional coursework, and clinical experiences appropriate to the grade range. Although the coursework, foundational coursework, and clinical experiences will vary with each grade band and subject area, each will include learner-centered supports, including strategies for deeper learning, and differentiated supports for intervention and tiered instruction. Educator preparation program standards will guide the construction of coursework and clinical experiences.

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grades b-k

Ages/Grades B-K

The educator preparing to teach Birth-Kindergarten will engage in an integrated course of study that is focused on whole child development, special education, relationships, and content area knowledge and pedagogy. Note that on the graphic, the diamonds symbolizing the different areas overlap each other. Also note the connection between the content of the Birth-Kindergarten and the PreK-3, as indicated by the color-matching of the diamonds. The standards for the Birth-Kindergarten program include integration and instruction to meet the care and learning needs of the whole child leading to a well-rounded education. Foundational and content area coursework are driven by program standards that include developmentally appropriate instructional practices for children in Birth-Kindergarten settings with an emphasis on social emotional learning.

This educator will be prepared to teach children across the birth-kindergarten continuum including, but not limited to, home visiting, Great Start Readiness Programs (GSRP), Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE), Head Start, and public or private school Kindergarten classrooms. Educators can also earn additional endorsements (e.g., PreK-12 special education, PreK-12 English as a second language, lower elementary PreK-3, PreK-12 music) to their certificates along with the Birth-Kindergarten grade band.

grades pk-3

Grades PreK-3

The educator preparing to teach grades PreK-3 will engage in an integrated course of study that is heavily focused on literacy and mathematics instruction and that also includes coursework in teaching science and social studies. Note that on the graphic, the diamonds symbolizing the different content areas overlap each other, but English language arts and mathematics are larger in size. The standards for the PreK-3 program include integration and instruction to meet the needs of the whole child leading to a well-rounded education. Foundational and content area coursework are driven by program standards that include developmentally appropriate instructional practices for students in grades PreK-3 with an emphasis on learner-centered supports.

This educator will be prepared to teach literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies to students in grades PreK-3 in a self-contained classroom or departmentalized setting. Educators can also earn additional endorsements (e.g., PreK-12 special education, PreK-12 English as a second language, upper elementary, PreK-12 music) to their certificates along with the PreK-3 grade band.

grades 3-6

Grades 3-6

The educator preparing to teach grades 3-6 will engage in an integrated course of study that is focused equally on literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies. Thus, while they still overlap, the diamonds symbolizing each content area are roughly the same size. Foundational and content area coursework are driven by standards that include developmentally appropriate instructional practices for students in grades 3-6 with an emphasis on learner-centered supports. Just like for the PreK-3 band, educators can also earn additional endorsements (e.g., PreK-12 special education, PreK-12 English as a Second Language, lower elementary, 5-9 mathematics, PreK-12 visual arts).

This educator will be prepared to teach literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies to students in grades 3-6 in a self-contained classroom or departmentalized setting.

grades 5-9

Grades 5-9

The educator preparing to teach grades 5-9 will engage in a course of study that focuses on at least one of the following content areas: English language arts, mathematics, science, or social studies. To represent this, we turned the diamonds onto their sides as squares representing the four base content areas of preparation. In addition, the stakeholder committee recommended candidates choose an additional area of preparation for endorsement: add a grade band (5-9 math + 7-12 math), add a content area (5-9 math + 5-9 science), or add a PreK-12 endorsement (English as a second language, visual arts, educational technology). As in other grade bands, foundational and content area coursework will be driven by standards that include developmentally appropriate instructional practices to meet the unique social-emotional needs for students in grades 5-9 with an emphasis on learner-centered supports.

This educator will be prepared to teach students of these grades in their chosen areas of study in a departmentalized setting.

grades 7-12

Grades 7-12

Similar to the grades 5-9 band, the educator preparing to teach grades 7-12 will engage in a course of study that focuses on one of the following content areas: English language arts, mathematics, science, or social studies. In addition, the stakeholder committee recommended candidates choose an additional area of preparation for endorsement: add a grade band (7-12 math + 5-9 math), add a content area (7-12 math + 7-12 science), or add a PreK-12 endorsement (e.g., English as a second language, visual arts, biology, or economics). In some cases, the additional content area endorsement may be related to their first content area choice, for example, science, and then biology. As before, foundational and content area coursework will be driven by standards that include developmentally appropriate instructional practices for students in grades 7-12 with an emphasis on learner-centered supports, which includes deeper learning and differentiated instruction.

This educator will be prepared to teach students of these grades in the area of study in a departmentalized setting.

multiple grade bands

Multiple Grade Bands (PreK-12, K-12, 5-12)

The educator preparing for endorsement in a discipline area that crosses multiple grade bands will engage in a course of study that focuses on a content area or student population. The educator may choose from visual arts, music, world language, library media, bilingual education, English as a second language, special education, health/physical education, or business and industrial education. Candidates selecting special education, English as a second language, or bilingual education must also choose a content area of specialization (e.g., lower elementary, English language arts, science, biology, or economics). Foundational and content area coursework will be driven by standards that include appropriate instructional practices for students in grades PreK-12, K-12, or 5-12 with an emphasis on learner-centered supports, including deeper learning and differentiated instruction.

This educator will be prepared to teach their chosen content area in these grade levels or to their specialized student population in a departmentalized setting.  

Certification System

To best address the needs of the education staffing ecosystem, placement options and flexibilities are available to support the revised structure.

Placement link

Appropriate Placement

While certified teachers may always teach in the grade range and content area listed on their certificates, teachers with these new grade band endorsements may also teach outside of the grade range without a substitute permit in specific placements. While it is strongly preferable for a teacher to be placed in an assignment in their grade band endorsement, current flexibility given the teacher shortage extends beyond grade band endorsements.

Revised Certificate Structure Placement
Flexibilities link

Flexibilities

When there is no teacher to fill a particular assignment, or to grow a future teacher into an assignment, MDE encourages local districts to continue utilizing the system of permits and other flexibilities to support staffing needs and vacancies.

Permit Overview