December 6, 2023

Virginia’s college students are heading again to school rooms, however many faculty methods stay suffering from trainer shortages.

Whereas the scarcity isn’t as extreme because it was at the start of final faculty yr, it stays sizeable.

In keeping with the Virginia Training Affiliation (VEA), there have been about 9,300 open job postings in school divisions throughout the state on Aug. 10, down from about 10,500 open postings on the identical day in 2022.

“There are a ton of openings throughout the state, and it’s not that significantly better than it was final yr,” stated VEA coverage analyst Chad Stewart. “We’d anticipate continued shortages for nearly all positions within the upcoming faculty yr.”

The shortages should not evenly distributed throughout the state. A few of the largest faculty divisions, together with Fairfax, Loudoun, and Chesterfield counties noticed important enhancements in general staffing. However in Spotsylvania County, the trainer scarcity is so acute that greater than 600 college students are taking math and English courses by way of a web based platform as a result of the college system doesn’t have a licensed trainer to supply in-person instruction.

Over the summer time, the Virginia Board of Training took an unprecedented step to attempt to tackle the scarcity: partnering with a for-profit firm that works to fast-track the trainer credentialing course of, iteach.

Iteach is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, which credentials conventional educator coaching packages at schools and universities. Andrew Rozell, president of certification at iteach, stated it’s the solely for-profit program of its type with this accreditation.

Some board members reportedly had reservations concerning the method, however the board in the end voted unanimously to approve a three-year pilot program. Iteach’s program contains on-line programs, after which candidates are positioned in school rooms with some supervision.

Nevertheless, even the fast-tracked program takes a couple of yr to get a candidate “teacher-ready,” which means that this system received’t assist with Virginia’s instant trainer scarcity downside.

Quick-track credentialing packages have myriad critics, together with Heather Peske, president of the Nationwide Council on Instructor High quality. Peske described on-line, for-profit trainer coaching packages as a “blunt instrument” that fails to keep in mind whether or not the potential lecturers are certified for the topics they are going to be educating or whether or not they are going to be happy sufficient with their jobs to stay within the career long-term.

Virginia is already leaning closely on lecturers with provisional licenses to assist tackle  the scarcity. Provisional licenses are short-term, nonrenewable licenses granted by the Virginia Division of Training for lecturers who’ve a number of the required {qualifications}, however haven’t met the entire state necessities to show.

A November 2022 report issued by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Evaluation Fee, which gives nonpartisan evaluation and oversight of state businesses, discovered that the commonwealth issued a complete of 8,434 provisional licenses in 2021-22 – a dramatic enhance from the typical of 6,787 within the years earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virginia Training Affiliation coverage analyst Chad Stewart expressed his group’s reservations about this elevated reliance on lecturers who aren’t totally licensed.

“For a very long time in Virginia, lecturers with short-term provisional licenses have performed an essential function, and it is a completely viable pathway, finally changing into a completely licensed trainer,” he stated. “However the way in which this licensure is working now — given the magnitude of provisionally licensed lecturers that we have now — doesn’t essentially match the way it was envisioned.”

Whereas it might not assist with this faculty yr’s trainer shortages, the lately introduced state price range settlement will direct important funds in the direction of Virginia’s Ok-12 faculty methods.

The price range deal, which is able to doubtless win ultimate approval later this week, contains $645 million in further state funding for public schooling. Virtually $55 million of that may go towards a further 2% wage bump for public faculty lecturers anticipated to enter impact Jan. 1, 2024. 

A 5% enhance was already authorised for the approaching yr, so the brand new funding will end in an general 7% wage enhance for lecturers over the previous two years. Moreover, over $152 million will go towards funding extra assist and educational positions throughout all faculty methods.