Wanted: Music Credential

In a stack of papers called Legislation.

  • Mar
  • 17
  • 2006

This is my second year teaching a section of guitar class. The first time I taught the course was in the 2002-2003 school year. Back then, I had to fill out some paperwork to justify my position as a teacher of a course for which I have no credential or coursework. A few years of performing in various capacities and a few recordings seemed to do the trick. The work I’ve done with music is nothing major at all, nothing that any of you couldn’t do if you simply put out a thimbleful of effort. We’re not talking capacity crowds and major-label releases, but they presented a strong case that I know of which I speak.

Administration on campus seemed pleased and I never heard from the district office after I turned everything in. Taking up the course again this year, I figured that my accomplishments that provided the rationale for last time around were still on file and still working to keep me in the classroom.

You’d figure that, what with it being the middle of March and all, I would have heard by now if there was any kind of problem. You’d figure that, if the district office felt its students were being ill served by an unqualified teacher, they wouldn’t let the possibly poor instruction continue for a majority of the school year.

You’d be wrong. I received an email today challenging my instruction of guitar.

I am honestly afraid that I’ll lose the course and be knocked down to 80% duty. There resides in me absolutely no intention to take any music classes or to even feign that I’m working on a credential in the area. Thanks to NCLB, the requirement for a highly qualified teacher in every classroom seems to have introduced the potential that I’m facing .8 employment for the remaining months of the school year. I have an administrator looking into what our possibilities are and I suspect (hope) I’ll have a few options on Monday.

What does all this say about the district that they are only asking this question now? What if I was a terribly prepared teacher for the course and really didn’t know anything about it? I could have been damaging the minds of these students for the past 6 and a half months! And the district has only now looked into this?

Should the NCLB requirements extend to elective classes? Can there be subject matter competency demonstrated in a way other than coursework or a test? By treating elective classes any differently than core classes (I wouldn’t dream of an English teacher being anyone other than an English major or someone who has passed the English CSET), are we suggesting that those courses are not of the same value as core classes? And if department chairs advocate strongly for subject matter competency of a candidate, should there be a way to override the requirements set forth as general practice? Should exceptions be allowed to the NCLB rules?


1. Laurie says:

[3/17/2006 - 8:24 pm]

What in the world? Did the monkeys finish trashing the office and actually start checking the files? I can imagine your frustration….and the students’ when they find out? What are they going to do with those kids for that period? Who is going to teach it? Why not just call it a “study hall” or a “CAHSEE support” class? Hell, enough research show that the study of music promotes intellectual development. I am flabbergasted.

2. tom says:

[3/18/2006 - 6:52 am]

Let McKell know about this situation.

3. Todd says:

[3/20/2006 - 6:46 pm]

It ends up that I will continue teaching guitar this year, so no fear of dropping to 80%. I still want to know if the “highly qualified teacher” requirement of NCLB applies to elective courses. I swear I recall reading that it only applies to the core academic areas. Someone else is looking into this for me.

McKell let me know about HOUSSE standards that could be used to assess my competency to teach guitar. But it looks like that involves a lot of observations and I don’t trust the district to follow through with it. I’ll bring it to the attention of my administration and see what they make of it, see what we can do to keep me in that class next year.

4. Nathan says:

[3/21/2006 - 10:48 am]

Each State must have developed a plan to ensure that all teachers (not just Title I teachers) teaching “core academic subjects” are highly qualified no later than the end of the 2005-06 school year – some exceptions:
-Certain rural school teachers
-Some special education teachers
-Possibly whole states

“Core academic subjects” means English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography.

Though there is no mention of music under “core academic subjects,” must states do make music teachers fall under this same catagory.

Current teachers can show “competency” by having an academic major in area of assignment (secondary), or by passing a test in the subject area, or by demonstrating high level of competence through a high, objective, uniform, statewide standard (HOUSSE).
States can classify any middle school grade or subject as elementary for HQT purposes.

Alternative routes to certification allowed.

I hope this helps you.

5. Todd says:

[3/21/2006 - 11:07 am]

I just looked at the CSET tests for music. There’s no way I’d pass those things. It’s crazy. I’m not a conductor nor an orchestra member and that’s the kind of knowledge they expect. My understanding of traditional middle-eastern music or the correct beat pattern for conducting a slow 6/8 rhythm really has nothing to do with my instruction of guitar.

I’ve asked the contact person at the district about the HOUSSE process and I look forward to what she has to say about that. I also asked if the HQT requirements apply to music.

You mentioned “as elementary for HQT purposes” and “Alternative routes to certification allowed.” What do you mean by those?

If you were able to find a site that discusses this issue, please let me know where you grabbed this text from. I’d like to direct that person from the district to a site further discussing the matter.

Let’s see if it helps me, Nathan! Thanks for the information.

6. A says:

[8/4/2007 - 6:21 pm]

Actually, although a degree in music automatically qualifies you for a supplemental credential in Music (introductory level only), it does not automatically give you competency in the subject matter. I have a BA in Music and I was told that I had had to take the CSET to be credentialed in secondary Music.

7. Todd says:

[8/5/2007 - 1:13 am]

Wait, I thought that was the whole point of the degree: to show that one is competent in that subject area. I have a degree in English and didn’t have to take a CSET to get my credential. Is taking the CSET in the area of future credentialing a requirement now, no matter the degree obtained?

I still wonder about my original questions. Why would a district take so long to find an unqualified teacher in their midst? Can competency be demonstrated some other way, even for teachers with credentials issued after the July 1, 2002 deadline for HOUSSE eligibility? Should exceptions be made to HQT requirements? Are we trying to build teachers or build requirements? How important are those requirements when someone like me slipped under that radar twice without anyone saying a word until the tail end of the second incident? A tiny effort on my part and I could have gotten away with it a third time, I’m sure.

8. Allan says:

[10/18/2007 - 9:36 am]

Nathan writes:

““Core academic subjects” means English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography.”

“arts” includes music, dance, visual art, drama…It is a very broad category.

9. Rusty says:

[4/21/2008 - 8:04 pm]

I don’t know what to do. I am getting a music degree in education and I don’t know how to get a credential for it. I want to conduct a choir and I know all the theory. I don’t mind taking the CSET, I just want to know where the cheapest, fastest, and in a relatively good place, is to credential. Do you know? Tell me please.

10. Owen Bradley says:

[5/1/2008 - 6:27 pm]

Alas, I believe that this is an excellent example of the double-edged sword that we have when it comes to music being labeled “co-curricular”. In Florida, they have mandated that students take a full credit of performing arts as a graduation requirement. Be careful what you wish for, because it subjects you to the craziness that is the education system!

Whoever said that it makes sense? Seems to me that anyone who can instill a love of music to a student would be “qualified”, but I can also see how if we demand the same respect as a subject, music teachers would be under the “umbrella”.