Radio Show Spotlights AACTE Member Work to Combat Teacher Shortages

In the latest monthly episode of Education Talk Radio spotlighting AACTE member institutions’ work, the online radio show featured the work of three educator preparation programs to combat teacher shortages. Host Larry Jacobs was joined for the May 17 show by AACTE member deans Kim Metcalf from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV), Patricia McHatton from the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), and Marcia Burrell from the State University of New York-Oswego (SUNY-Oswego) as well as Rod Lucero from AACTE.

Teacher shortages are plaguing many states and districts around the country, particularly in high-need fields and low-income schools. In addition to school-centered problems such as high teacher turnover and persistent gaps in the diversity of students and their teachers, preparation programs have experienced enrollment drops that further heighten the productivity challenge. “It has to do with, quite frankly, money,” Lucero said, noting that college students are leery of investing in an expensive degree for a career that lacks sufficient salary to repay their student loans, and some teachers start out earning below the poverty line.

UNLV’s approach to the severe staffing problems in Nevada has been to create nearly two dozen distinctive pathways so that people who are interested in teaching can enter the profession more easily, Metcalf said. These pathways use strategies such as recruiting minority candidates, allowing students interested in a teaching career to earn college course credit in high school, and developing express master’s programs for career switchers. Metcalf noted that having numerous routes to a teaching license, as long as they still provide adequate pedagogy, creates a versatile teacher pipeline that should help bring and retain people in the profession.

UTRGV already has a diverse student body, McHatton said, with 90% of education students being Latino thanks to the school’s location on the U.S.-Mexico border. Because recruitment of diverse students is not a particular challenge, the administration can focus more on preparing and retaining the students as well as fostering a community to support more positive rhetoric around teaching and the university in the Rio Grande area. They do so by fostering partnerships such as their Holmes Cadet Program, which supports historically underrepresented high school students interested in entering the education profession.

SUNY-Oswego focuses on offering teacher candidates diverse settings for their clinical experiences including both rural and urban areas of upstate New York. Burrell said the troubling trend of teachers leaving the profession after just a few years has to do with their not understanding what the profession entails – which her program aims to change through carefully crafted school-based experiences. They also offer a 15-month program that allows people from other professions to become teachers with a focus on content pedagogy.

Listen to the whole radio broadcast here, and tune in for AACTE’s next segment on Education Talk Radio, June 14 at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

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Shawn Karim

AACTE, Intern