Monday, August 17, 2015

UIS now offering elementary education major

Prospective teachers will be able to major in elementary education starting this fall at the University of Illinois Springfield after the Illinois Board of Higher Education approved the option last week.

Students previously have been able to pursue an elementary school teaching career at UIS, but having a major has advantages — for both the students and the school, said Cindy Wilson, who chairs the UIS Department of Teacher Education.

She said elementary education and secondary education have been available as minors at UIS since 2001. But elementary education programs statewide had to be revised after the Illinois State Board of Education revised its standards for teachers.

"We thought it would be a good time to turn elementary education into a major," Wilson said. Secondary education will remain a minor option.

"We've had anecdotal research and market research that the people who are going to be elementary teachers want a major," she said. "Their parents want that, too."

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said the university made the decision about three years ago to identify new academic areas that would add value and increase enrollment, and elementary education was one of those.

"It's really part of our growth priorities we've had for several years," she said. "There's a lot of demand for it."

Wilson said beginning to offer the major has "been a long, complicated and detailed process," noting that plenty of UIS graduates have become successful elementary school teachers, but they want that major.

"We know there are students who might have come here who went elsewhere because we didn't have a major in elementary education," Wilson said.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on August 17, 2015.

Read the full article online.