The Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR) is pleased to announce a new consensus document, the State Policy Statements to Enhance Educator Preparation, developed by AACTE state chapter leaders and members to support the advocacy work of educator preparation providers (EPPs).
ACSR leaders representing more than 1,100 EPPs participated in a collaborative process to develop the document, agreeing on key statements under the following three priority areas:
This article originally appeared in the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) News Center and is reposted with permission.
Urban Leadership Development graduates Diana Gomez, left, Dawn King and Benjamin Feinstein. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Photo Services)
Diana Gomez always felt a pull toward a teaching career.
Even as a child, her heart was happiest when she was supervising her sisters’ and cousins’ cursive writing and math lessons, recess sessions, and lunch duty during games of “school.” She spent 5 years post-college exploring an accounting career, but the passion for her first love — education — remained.
Gomez returned to school to obtain her teaching credential, moved to Las Vegas because of vast job openings, and might have been content to teach first grade forever. But one fateful day, a mentor, whose “growing our own” mantra had encouraged Gomez to spend the last several years moving up the ranks, urged her to attend an informational meeting about the University of Nevada Las Vegas Urban Leadership Development (ULD) program.
The Education Commission of the States (ECS), a national state policy organization that partners with education policy leaders including AACTE, has released six reports that provide guidance to state policy makers seeking to address teacher shortages.
An introductory report, Teacher Shortages: What We Know, examines the teacher labor market and highlights recent findings from state task forces that have addressed policies related to teacher shortages.
Five additional reports consider different state strategies to tackle shortages: alternative certification, financial incentives, induction and mentorship, evaluation and feedback, teacher leadership.
Ed Prep Matters is pleased to bring you this special feature on state policy and AACTE state chapter activity. For a summary of March’s state activity, see this article; February’s state activity is available here.
Overview of State Policy Activity
Thanks to AACTE’s State Policy Tracker, we can identify trends in state legislation and regulations related to educator preparation.
So far this year, approximately 300 state bills related to educator preparation have been introduced. Of these, 186 were related to certification and standards, and 18 have been enacted. Many of these laws are related to lowering certification standards for alternative-route programs, differentiated licensure standards for certain subjects including STEM fields and career and technical education (CTE), and allowing more pathways into teaching to alleviate shortages. Seven bills related to teacher certification and shortages have been signed into law in 2016 with themes such as expanding scholarships for teacher candidates and offering loan forgiveness for teachers. Five state bills have been signed into law related to teacher licensure standards.
It is no secret that South Carolina has faced many challenges related to education. Most recently, a shortage of teachers has been severely affecting the most vulnerable regions of South Carolina: our rural and poverty-stricken regions. In a state where most students live below the poverty level, there are some unsung heroes doing their best with the lowest of means, but we desperately need to improve our recruitment and retention of professional educators.
One way the state is supporting this goal is through Proviso 1A.73, also known as the Rural Teacher Recruiting Incentive. The FY16 budget allows for $1.5 million to be spent on this plan. The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA) at Winthrop University along with the South Carolina Department of Education and the Education Oversight Committee has been charged with the responsibility to develop the initiative, and CERRA Executive Director Jane Turner submitted the plan for the first year in January 2016 with multiple components:
In advance of the 68th Annual Meeting, AACTE held a press briefing last month at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, focused on educator preparation providers’ work to address the teacher shortages in Nevada. Panelists discussed the challenges they face and innovative solutions under way to meet the urgent demand for qualified teachers in the state’s two largest counties and in both rural and urban areas.
Presented by AACTE in partnership with member institutions in the state, the briefing featured an interactive panel discussion moderated by Mark LaCelle-Peterson, AACTE senior vice president for policy and programs, with the following panelists:
- Kenneth Coll, Dean, College of Education, University of Nevada, Reno
- Kim Metcalf, Dean, College of Education, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- Dennis Potthoff, Dean, School of Education, Nevada State College
- Thomas Reagan, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Great Basin College
- Staci Vesneske, Former Chief Human Resources Officer, Clark County School District, on special assignment to the superintendent’s office
The views expressed in this brief are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Pending shortages of special education teachers have many states and local districts scrambling to find solutions for securing the teachers they need. Some states are proposing incentives for recruiting special education teachers (as well as teachers in other high-need areas) and reducing requirements for entry into the classroom. Others are looking for alternative ways of preparing teachers in high-need areas. Quick routes to the classroom and incentives such as signing bonuses will do little to solve the shortage problem in the long term. At best, they create a revolving door, because unprepared special education teachers are more likely to leave teaching. At worst, they exacerbate the problem. Instead, a more systemic approach to solving the teacher shortage problem in special education is needed—one that will increase the likelihood that an adequate supply of fully prepared special education teachers enters the classroom and remains there.
As chair-elect of AACTE’s Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR), I invite you to join me in an engaging, thought-provoking, and solutions-oriented panel discussion about school-staffing challenges during AACTE’s Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.
On Tuesday, February 23, at 1:45 p.m., ACSR will host the major forum “A Regional Lens to Addressing Teacher Shortage and Distribution by Subject and Location,” focusing on factors contributing to the western region’s teacher shortages and to the inequitable distribution of effective educators. (You can add the session to your personal schedule in the Online Event Planner).
Over the past month, 35 state legislatures have convened for their 2016 legislative session—and it’s already been a productive year. Since January 1, nearly as many state bills related to educator preparation have been introduced as in all of 2015. In 2015, about 150 such bills were introduced; during January 2016, there were 133, introduced in 33 state legislatures. The states with the most bills proposed so far are New Jersey, Oklahoma, Iowa, Florida, and Michigan. Some of the common topics addressed in the bills include modifying teacher certification/licensure standards as related to teacher shortages and alternative routes to certification, investing in scholarships and loan forgiveness for teachers, and mandating training for teachers to support students with dyslexia as a requirement for licensure.
In addition, since the New Year, 34 state regulations have been proposed in 17 states related to educator preparation. The vast majority of the proposed state regulations relate to streamlining or clarifying teacher certification standards.
As the Every Student Succeeds Act rolls back the direct federal involvement in improving student achievement and hands over much of that authority to states, lawmakers throughout the country will be examining a range of issues related to PK-12 education during their 2016 legislative sessions. One of the most pressing concerns on many states’ lists is teacher shortages.
At AACTE’s 2016 Annual Meeting next month in Las Vegas, a three-part series of panel discussions on the topic has been organized with the help of the Advisory Council of State Representatives: