Facing a critical teacher shortage, Maryland educators spent three years hammering out a program to help future elementary teachers transfer smoothly from two-year to four-year colleges and get on their way to school classrooms.
But now, as the first students to earn the associate of arts degree in teaching for elementary education get ready to move on, they are finding added requirements still stand between them and enrollment in the education programs of some popular four-year schools.
Administrators at Howard Community College are concerned that four-year colleges - including more affordable state schools - plan to admit transfer students to their schools and then delay their entry into education programs for a semester or more by requiring additional classes.
It was not supposed to happen that way.
The associate's degree was intended as an ideal, uniform first two years that would enable students to move directly into education programs at four-year schools with all credits intact.
Written into state regulations last year, the degree replaces a system that has frustrated community colleges for years, one where each four-year school decides what credits to accept and what more the students needed to do.
"Four-year schools are holding to their way of doing business, and it's not meeting the need in the marketplace," said Roger N. Caplan, chairman of Howard Community College's board of trustees.