AMS Board Acts on Task Force Recommendations

 

Contact: Richard A. Ungerer, Executive Director
Phone: 212-358-1250 x308
E-mail: richard@amshq.org

American Montessori Society
116 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003-2163

June 27, 2011. At its March 2011 meeting in Chicago, IL, the AMS Board of Directors voted on several matters related to AMS teacher and head of school qualifications and requirements. The decisions were the culmination of work that had formally started 3 years earlier, in 2008, when the board charged a task force with studying and making recommendations on issues having to do with Secondary Credentials, a degree requirement for teachers, professional development guidelines, and Administrator Credentials.

Below, you will find background information about the work of the task force, followed by the board decisions and notes about implementation.

Background

In March 2008, the AMS Board of Directors established a task force to study and make recommendations on four distinct issues that have been discussed and questioned over many years:

  1. Should AMS require accredited/full member schools with middle school and secondary programs to have lead teachers who hold a Montessori Secondary Credential, as a credential is required for teachers at all other age levels?
  2. Should AMS continue to issue an Associate Credential for Infant & Toddler and Early Childhood lead teachers who do not hold a bachelor’s degree? Further questions must also be answered:
    a) Should the School Accreditation standards be changed to require that lead teachers at accredited schools hold a bachelor’s degree and a Full (not Associate) Credential?
    b) Should holders of an Associate Credential have a specified amount of time to complete a bachelor’s degree and upgrade to a Full Credential?
    c) Should the requirements for Infant &Toddler teachers be the same as those for Early Childhood teachers?
  3. Should AMS require continuing education/professional development activities for lead teachers to maintain their AMS credentials and require a specific number of hours of continuing education annually of teachers in accredited schools?
  4. Should AMS require particular Montessori credentials and/or educational degrees for administrators/heads of accredited Montessori schools?

The task force members, appointed by the Board, included individuals from all AMS constituent groups: teachers, teacher educators, heads of schools, and TEP directors. A protocol for the work was established and carried out from fall 2008 – 2010. AMS senior staff had access to all online discussions by these groups and provided necessary statistics as requested.

The groups convened periodically via teleconference and communicated through an online discussion board. Each group reviewed relevant literature including research studies, and created surveys to address questions related to each of the issues. Online access to these surveys was sent via blast email in early November 2009 to all AMS members to obtain members’ views. Some subcommittees also conducted face-to-face and telephone interviews of various constituents.

The results of surveys and interviews were collated, discussed, analyzed, and shared with the Board of Directors in quarterly reports. An Open Forum was held at the Fall 2010 Conference in San Diego, where the chairs or representatives of each subcommittee shared their findings and conclusions and addressed questions from the audience.

The subcommittees completed their review of literature, survey and interview analysis, and discussions, and presented recommendations along with detailed summaries of their work to the Board of Directors at its March 2010 meeting in Boston, MA.

The recommendations were reviewed by the School Accreditation Commission and Teacher Education Action Committee at their respective meetings in San Diego in October 2010. A joint meeting of the two groups was also held to attempt to reach consensus on the recommendations.

The final recommendations from the cross-constituency discussion of the two groups were reviewed by the Board of Directors at their March 2011 meeting. Following this review, the Board voted and approved the following (see below).

Board Decisions

Secondary Teacher Credentials

  • AMS accredited and full member schools with secondary I and/or II programs are required to employ lead teachers with a Secondary Credential or equivalent per a teacher qualification verification system (point system) for the Secondary Credential.
  • Schools will have 7 years to hire teachers with the Secondary Montessori Credential at the onset of this requirement with onset date still to be determined.
  • A secondary teacher verification system* will be created that will parallel the system already in place for accredited and full member schools for teachers at all other levels.

*A work group will be appointed to create this verification system.

Degree Requirement for Teachers

  • The Associate Credential for Infant & Toddler and Early Childhood will continue to be offered with the condition that every teacher education program that accepts applicants without a bachelor’s degree require the adult learner to sign a notice explaining that local requirements for employment as an Infant & Toddler and/or Early Childhood teacher vary widely.
  • Each Associate Credential candidate is responsible for verifying local regulations to determine qualifications for employment. AMS strongly encourages holders of the Associate Credential to obtain a bachelor’s degree within 7 years of credentialing

Professional Development Guidelines

  • 50 hours of professional development* will be required over a period of 5 years to retain an AMS associate or full Montessori credential at all age levels.
  • If professional development hours are not completed within the 5-year period, the teacher’s credential will be considered inactive until the requirement is met.
  • Date of implementation will be determined when the details are finalized.
  • Equity access to professional development for international teacher members will be considered.
  • Teachers who already hold AMS credentials will not be “grandfathered.”

*A work group will be appointed to determine what types of professional development will be considered and how this will be tracked, what fees will be charged for a teacher to renew her/his credential, and an implementation timetable.

Administrator Credentials

  • Administrator/head of an AMS accredited/full member school is required to hold a bachelor’s degree and to meet one of 3 criteria: hold an AMS Administrator Credential; hold an AMS teaching credential with a degree or certificate in Educational Administration or significant experience for the administrator; or meet a series of alternative expectations that represent credentials and experiences indicative of an administrator engaged in professional development.
  • Schools will have a 7-year period from date of implementation of this decision to meet the requirement (date to be determined). The head of school verification system* will parallel that already in place for teachers.

*A work group will be appointed to create this verification system.

Implementation of the Recommendations

The Board approved appointing small task force workgroups to work along with AMS senior staff advisors to develop the details for timelines and implementation of each decision for Board approval before these requirements are implemented.

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