Teacher Education

ETEP - FAQS


In what geographic areas are placements made?
The ETEP cohorts are spread across the southern Maine region for both the 9-month and the Unified 7-12 (two year) programs. Many area district schools are used for placements. The Unified K-8 cohort is more widespread because it is primarily an online program and many students are employed by the school districts as ed techs. Placements are made according to geographic location of the intern, available mentor teachers, and available partner schools.

What Makes a Strong Candidate for ETEP?
We seek candidates who demonstrate the characteristics of self-knowledge, maturity, sensitivity to others and the ability to adapt to, and learn from, new and challenging situations. Strong candidates to ETEP are also academically strong students. They demonstrate this strength through their performance during the completion of an undergraduate degree in an appropriate academic discipline, by successfully passing Praxis I, and by demonstrating strong written and oral communication skills in the application process. Lastly, strong ETEP candidates have prior experiences working with children in instructional situations where they have developed a learning-centered educational philosophy.

Can I get certified without going through a university teacher education program like ETEP?
Yes, the state of Maine offers alternative certification pathway which does not require completing a state approved program such as ETEP. However, such a route does not provide the high level of professional preparation that ETEP offers, nor an equal level of competitiveness for obtaining a teaching position. Finding a job, if certified through the alternative route, can often be difficult and frustrating. However, if you are unable to join ETEP and would like to be advised about the alternative pathway, please contact the Maine Department of Education (207-624-6603).

Are there any courses that are prerequisites for admission to ETEP?
Yes, there are. ETEP is a teacher certification program that provides the professional course work needed to be well prepared for the first year of teaching. ETEP does not include content courses in the liberal arts that are required for teacher certification. Those courses are prerequisites to the program.

The best way to find out where you stand in terms of the coursework that is a prerequisite to ETEP and required for teacher certification is to have a transcript analysis done at USM. This analysis, while not official, is as close as you can get without going to the State of Maine Department of Education to have an analysis. Ultimately, however, it is the responsibility of the student to ascertain whether former coursework will count towards certification. There are many subtleties to doing an analysis, so, while you may be able to do one yourself, it is best to have your transcripts checked by the teacher certification advisor at USM. Please contact Patricia Mew, (pmew@usm.maine.edu or 207-780-5413), for further information.

What if I have missing course work?
There are two ways to fulfill any gaps in what you need for pre-requisites. You can take a course at any four-year accredited college or university (no community colleges) or you can attain college credit through taking and passing a College Level Entrance Program (CLEP) test. These tests are standard and given at most college testing centers including USM. They cost $125 per test plus a $15 fee for posting the credit to a USM transcript. It’s a good idea to make sure you have the prior knowledge before attempting the test, however. The website for CLEP at USM is http://usm.maine.edu/pla/pla-CLEP-exams. The maximum number of CLEP credits one can use for certification purposes is 6.

What Praxis test do I take?
The Praxis I is also called the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST). It is required as part of the admission application to ETEP. An applicant can take the paper-based or the computer-based version (recommended). The paper-based version is only offered 4 times a year at various locations throughout the U.S. and Maine. USM is one of the testing sites. You can register for the paper-based version online by going to www.ets.org/praxis/register The dates that the test is offered should also be posted on the website.

The computer-based version (recommended) is offered at many Prometrics Centers (a.k.a.Sylvan Learning Center) throughout the U.S. Locally, South Portland has a site. There is a toll-free number to call to register for the computer-based version. That is 1-800-853-6773. The advantage of the computer-based version is that a student receives math and reading scores immediately after completing the test (The writing score takes several weeks.). In addition, it is offered much more frequently than the paper-based version.

How difficult is the Praxis I?
The Praxis I test - also called the PPST - includes three timed subtests: reading comprehension, writing and math. The writing component includes multiple choice grammar questions as well as a written essay. The math section includes basic numeracy, fractions, decimals, percents, word problems, basic geometry and algebra. Higher level math is not included. The test is similar to SAT tests taken for college admissions or GRE tests taken for graduate school. It is a basic skills test developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

There are lots of books available to help a prospective student prepare for the Praxis I exam. Various publishers create such books which are available through most chain bookstores. Also, the ETS offers e-books online through their website: www.ets.org/praxis

How much does ETEP cost?
Depending on what ETEP option you are in, you could take anywhere from 24 - 33 credits per year. The Unified options are typically 24 - 27 credits per year and the 9-month program is 33 credits per year. The in-state tuition rate for 2011-2012 is $380 per credit. There are also fees for such items as parking, health services, courses, and enrollment. These can add up to $600 per semester. So, while ETEP costs a little over $13,200 per year for the one year option, you need to add on transportation, daycare (if applicable), and book costs, etc. Visit the USM Student Billing webpage to see the most up-to-date costs for tuition and fees.

Is financial aid available?
Yes! At the graduate level, part-time (at least six credits per semester) to full-time students are eligible for loans and scholarships. There are many scholarships available both within the University and within the State of Maine for those who pursue teaching. And, some loans may be forgivable for those who teach in a shortage subject area or a low income school. Once a year, USM hosts a financial aid night for ETEP applicants in early December that can help you plan your academic finances for the year. For more information on scholarships visit http://usm.maine.edu/sehd. For more information about financial aid at USM visit http://www.usm.maine.edu/fin

Can I have a graduate assistantship while I'm in ETEP?
For those students in the Unified options, it may be possible to work as a graduate assistant. A typical graduate assistant position is ten hours per week. You receive a monthly stipend and a tuition waiver of 12 credits for the academic year.

Can I work while I'm in ETEP?
The only programs in which a job is encouraged are the Unified K-8 or Unified 7-12 program (Ed. Tech. positions or graduate assistantships work the best.). The 9-month program is an intensive, full-time one, and there is literally no time for outside work.

How do I register for classes?
Since all ETEP class numbers are not disclosed to the general public, you will not find them by doing a "Course Search." You will, however, be notified by the Teacher Education Office at registration time about which classes to register for. You then go to Maine Street and your "Student Services Center" to register. If you have difficulty registering, please contact Catherine Madore, Administrative Associate for the Teacher Education Department, either by phone at 780-5302 or by email (preferred) at cmadore@usm.maine.edu.

Can I take classes for ETEP ahead of time?
Generally, this is discouraged. All options in ETEP are self-contained and mandate a certain number of credits. Moreover, coursework is closely connected to the internship and seminar and is taken with a specific cohort. If a student has a recent course that is equivalent of SED 540 (Exceptionality) - which is the only course that could be transferred in to USM, the student needs to choose another course in its place, in consultation with a faculty advisor. Therefore, it is not in your best interest to take any courses ahead of time.

Will USM help me get a job?
USM does not do job placement. Each spring ETEP holds an information session on applying for a teaching position in the K-12 schools. We invite local superintendents and principals to come to talk with you about what they are looking for in a teacher candidate. For more information on teaching jobs available in Maine visit: www.servingschools.com

What is the job market like for certified teachers?

The job opportunities depend on individual districts, disciplines, time of year, and certification area. In general, if an individual is a "certified" "highly qualified teacher," he or she is in a stronger position than all others. Non-certified, non-highly qualified teachers have a difficult time being considered in most disciplines. Individual profiles can be found on the Maine Department of Labor: http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/

What is the starting salary for teachers in Maine?
By law beginning in 2007-2008, the minimum starting salary for all beginning teachers in Maine is $30,000. All districts must start at that level but then they have individual negotiation abilities after that. All districts and school's salary steps are public information. Most, if not all, districts have them on their individual web sites.