JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - In a collaborative effort to produce more and better qualified teachers, all Missouri community colleges have begun offering the Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) degree beginning this 2007-2008 academic year.

This articulated transfer degree is designed to assist students who aspire to become new teachers and begin their higher educations in a Missouri community college. The AAT is a 62-credit hour program that will provide two-year students a more direct and predictable pathway to becoming a certified teacher. After completing the AAT degree, students will be able to transfer without loss of credit to participating four-year colleges and universities in the state.

Previously, the transfer of community college credits varied. For example, credits earned at a community college were not automatically accepted in transfer at a four-year institution with a state-approved bachelor's degree in teacher education. The AAT allows students to take a core set of courses and to know how those credits will transfer, eliminating students' having to repeat classes or delay graduation. The AAT degree is intended to improve the pipeline for qualified teacher candidates.

The Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) approved a proposal from the state’s community colleges in December, 2006, authorizing the new AAT degree. Community college leaders in consultation with their four-year colleagues and members of the CBHE Committee on Transfer and Articulation (COTA) drafted a statewide articulation agreement for the AAT which has been sent to all public and independent four-year institutions seeking formal participation commitments.

"The collaborative nature of this effort has been very impressive," stated Dr. Robert B. Stein, Commissioner of Higher Education. "It's a prime example of Missouri institutions working together for the betterment of our students. We all look forward to the spring of 2009 when the first cohort of AAT graduates will experience easy transfer to complete a teaching degree at a Missouri four-year institution."

Missouri's community colleges consist of Crowder College, East Central College, Jefferson College, Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City, Mineral Area College, Moberly Area Community College, North Central Missouri College, Ozarks Technical Community College, St. Charles Community College, St. Louis Community College, State Fair Community College, and Three Rivers Community College. All twelve offer the new degree.

All of Missouri's public four-year institutions with undergraduate teacher preparation programs have signed the agreement, including: Harris-Stowe State University, Lincoln University, Missouri Southern State University, Missouri State University, Missouri Western State University, Northwest Missouri State University, Southeast Missouri State University, University of Central Missouri, University of Missouri - Columbia, University of Missouri - Kansas City, and University of Missouri - St. Louis. In addition the following independent institutions have agreed to articulate the AAT degree:Central Methodist University, Culver-Stockton College, Drury University, Hannibal-LaGrange College, Lindenwood University, Missouri Baptist University, Missouri Valley College, Park University, Stephens College, Webster University, Westminster College, and William Woods University.