BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Aspiring teachers will have to be near the top of their class and pass an entrance exam to attend a State University of New York program under tougher college admission requirements announced Monday.
The changes, announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, were approved by the SUNY Board of Trustees last week as a way to standardize admissions across SUNY teacher preparation programs. They were among recommendations of the New NY Education Reform Commission, an expert panel assembled by Cuomo last year to find ways to improve schools.
"These new admission requirements will help ensure that we are recruiting from exceptional candidates to educate our state's students," said Cuomo, who backed the idea in his 2013 State of the State address.
By the 2015-16 school year, SUNY will adopt an entry test for undergraduate and graduate programs and require students to have a 3.0 average for acceptance. Incoming freshmen will have to have graduated in the top 30 percent of their high school class, according to the resolution.
SUNY's 17 teacher preparation programs, which train about a quarter of the state's teachers, currently have their own admissions standards.
A spokesman for New York State United Teachers said the state's largest teachers union supports raising the bar for teacher preparation but would have preferred to see more public discussion of the measure before it was adopted.
"We think the system would benefit from the experience and thoughts of faculty in teacher prep programs and a transparent dialogue," spokesman Carl Korn said.
Cuomo's office said that while countries with the strongest education systems recruit teachers from the top 10 percent of their high school or college graduating classes, only about 30 percent of U.S. teachers finish in the top third of their college class.
"New York's children deserve outstanding teachers and mentors, and the new admission requirements put in place by SUNY will help ensure that all students, and the schools they attend, can be more successful," SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said.
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