University offers new 'triple crown' teacher certification program

A “triple crown” teacher certification program beginning this fall at Texas Woman’s University will prepare new teachers to meet the needs of all students in the classroom. The degree program — which offers teacher candidates the potential to graduate with core subjects, special education and English as a Second Language (ESL) certification — is believed to be the first of its kind in the state.

“Many students who have graduated with certification to teach elementary school have returned for our teacher workshops for their ESL or special education certification,” said Rebecca Fredrickson, Ed.D., undergraduate program coordinator for teacher education at Texas Woman’s. “Most districts are looking for these certifications.”

Fredrickson, who led the effort to establish the triple certification program, added, “Our classrooms are fully inclusive. First-year teachers rarely will have a classroom without a mix of all types of students, including students with special needs or who are second-language learners. Singular-focus degree programs don’t fully prepare them for that. This program gives the teachers strategies and skills they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

The triple certification degree program consists of 131 total semester credit hours — just one to three classes more than the programs require individually. Fredrickson said special education and bilingual/ESL faculty worked hard to create a program that would benefit students.

“This program will be the best for all students in the classrooms, and I believe it will give our students an advantage in the hiring process,” Fredrickson said.

Diane Myers, Ph.D., chair of TWU’s teacher education department, agrees.

“Since classrooms are inclusive, being trained and eligible for certification in all three areas will be a huge benefit to our graduates — and to their future employers,” Myers said.

“Students often do not fit into a single category,” she added. “Students with special needs may be English-language learners, and some English-language learners may have special needs or learning or behavior challenges. Our ‘triple crown’ graduates will be more qualified to address these issues due to their additional training. Having this option in addition to our other degree plans — including special education only, ESL only, and more — increases choices for our students and allows us to have more ways to meet their professional and educational needs.”

Fredrickson said she’s excited about what this degree program could do for TWU teacher education graduates.

“I believe the teachers we produce are second to none,” she said. “This program gives them a little extra.”

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Page last updated 1:05 PM, August 16, 2017