WMA actively lobbied for an alternative Montessori licensure pathway in 2015. In the past, Montessori graduates without a state license had to either attend a university state licensure program or, in Milwaukee, enter a specially designed program for teachers to gain a license while employed. The cost of these programs was $12,000 – $13,000. This created a hardship finding qualified public Montessori teachers.
Due to the shortage of Montessori trained teachers in the public sector; WMA approached Wisconsin Senator Luther Olson, Chair of the Education Committee, in 2015 to explore an alternative pathway for licensure. Senator Olson’s former assistant, Sarah Archibald, helped us lobby to insert this legislation into the 2015 State Budget. By the legislation being part of the budget, WMA saved substantial funds by not needing to lobby legislators in both the assembly and the senate. Senator Olson supported our efforts and the legislation was inserted in the State Budget and signed into law by Governor Walker in June of 2015.
The result of this new legislation allows for Montessori teachers, who graduate from a MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education) affiliated training center, to obtain a special Montessori teaching license that allows the teacher to teach in any Montessori public or charter school in the state of Wisconsin. The link to understand the requirements on the DPI website is http://dpi.wi.gov/tepdl/pathways/montessori
Essentially, the pathway requires that an individual who wants to obtain this license holds a college degree (BS or BA) in any subject area and has graduated from an accredited MACTE Montessori teacher-training center. Fortunately, all of the AMI and AMS centers in the Midwest area are MACTE accredited. The individual has to complete the following requirements: successfully pass the Praxis CORE and Praxis II content tests, pass the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT), pass the Ed/TPA, an on-line assessment that requires the teacher to submit video tapes of lessons taught and tie the lessons to the common core standards, and take a three credit graduate or undergraduate course in special education. For anyone who is considering this pathway, I would strongly suggest that they look up these assessments to understand the timeline to complete them. One consequence of the legislation is that DPI will not issue a provisional license. This means the individual would need to complete all these requirements during Montessori training. Otherwise, the teacher would have to enter into a traditional university state-licensing program to obtain a provisional license while working to complete the required assessments.
In Milwaukee, to respond to the growing need for Montessori licensed teachers; there is a program at Alverno College that aids teachers to pass these assessments while working with a nonrenewable one-year license during their first year of teaching while in the program. In this program, Alverno also provides an experienced retired Montessori teacher mentor to support the first year teacher. The cost is $3,750. If you are interested in finding out more about this program contact Steve Huffman [firstname.lastname@example.org] or Doreen Britton Lange [email@example.com] at Alverno College.
The University of Wisconsin-River also offers a pathway to 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12 AMS certification and Wisconsin licensure through graduate coursework. Participants may earn a Master’s Degree in Education while doing their Montessori studies. The UWRF program is hybrid and designed for working professionals. Face to face classes meet one weekend a month and convene in River Falls and in Appleton. If you are interested in finding more about this program, contact program manager, Linda Jacobson (firstname.lastname@example.org), or program director, Melina Papadimitriou (email@example.com).
WMA can also help teachers navigate this alternative-licensing pathway by advising candidates on when and how to prepare for the assessments and directing candidates to the Alverno or UWRF programs or providing assistance with DPI officials.