As a former principal and superintendent, I fully understand the importance of recruiting and retaining effective and successful teachers and educational leaders. I also understand the concern created by the lack of qualified educators in the availability pipeline and the difficulties this issue presents to schools, districts, and students. Our students deserve professionals of the highest quality. Thus, students deserve the best educators our state can attract and provide. Whether through a traditional higher education program or by alternative licensing, it is imperative we staff our school communities with educators who are passionate, skilled, and prepared for the career ahead. Our students are our nation’s most vital asset. Therefore, recruiting, retaining, recognizing, and rewarding our educators is a top priority.
For the first time, the Indiana Department of Education has named a Chief Talent Officer who is charged with focusing on such important priorities. Dr. Scott Syverson is the cabinet member who fills this role. Dr. Syverson and the department will examine Indiana’s current programs, successful programs from across the nation, and those programs internationally which have found success.
Secondly, in an effort to recruit and retain effective educators, Indiana offers both traditional and alternative educator preparation programs. Institutions of higher education (public and private colleges/universities) may be approved to offer traditional undergraduate or graduate-level programs for initial licensure. Non-institutions of higher education, such as K-12 charter schools, K-12 traditional schools, or business entities, may also now be approved to offer transition to teaching programs. For instance, Goodwill Industries and Christel House Academy were recently approved by the State Board of Education to offer transition to teaching programs designed to meet the challenges of recruiting and retaining licensed teachers in high need areas. These programs adhere to state and national standards by working with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to become nationally accredited.
Thirdly, Indiana has multiple avenues for educators to reach licensure. Many of the avenues are longstanding; however, some of them are not so widely used. Although not all inclusive, the following is information on options for recruitment, retention, and alternative licensing in Indiana.
Substitute Permits: School corporations determine their own standards and assessments for substitute teachers and approve the issuance of such permits. http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/substitute-permits.
Emergency Permits: A school corporation unable to fill a teaching position may request an emergency permit for an individual with at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and who agrees to begin the process of seeking a license. http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/emergency-permits.
Advanced Degree: An individual may qualify for a secondary (middle school and high school) license if he/she meets the specific criteria. http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/alternative-licensure-paths.
Charter School Licensure: With a bachelor’s degree, you may qualify for an instructional license valid for teaching in a public charter (not traditional public) school. http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/alternative-licensure-paths.
Career Specialist Permit: The Career Specialist Permit (CSP) is another option that allows an individual to teach a specific secondary content area. http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/alternative-licensure-paths.
Transition to Teaching (T2T): T2T programs are based on the premise that a candidate already has content knowledge in the licensing area. T2T programs prepare career professionals to teach (pedagogical preparation) in the classroom setting. http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/approved-transition-teaching-programs.
Traditional Licensure Path: You may wish to seek initial licensure through a “traditional program route” by completing a traditional undergraduate program or as a “post-baccalaureate” for licensure-only candidate. If interested, please visit the following links for additional information: http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/repa-approved-teacher-preparation-programs.
Masters of Arts in Teaching: Master of Arts or “MAT” programs typically lead to a pre-service degree following the completion of 30 semester hours beyond a bachelor’s degree. http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/approved-mat-programs.
Approved Online and Distance Learning Programs: For approved online and distance learning programs, please visit http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/approved-online-and-distance-learning-programs.
Undoubtedly, all schools and districts are seeking innovative and traditional methods to address educator retention, attraction, and development responsibilities. Districts have done so with general fund dollars for many years, but as such monies become more at-risk, alternative funds are being repurposed.
Educator Retention: There are several ways in which districts can take advantage of efforts to retain educators. Again, not an all-inclusive list, but the following are potential revenue sources.
- Title I 1003(a) Tier III: Title I Focus and Priority Schools may receive grant funding to participate in the 1003(a) Tier III School Improvement Grant Opportunity to support teacher retention initiatives, such as induction, mentorship and peer support programs.
- Excellence in Performance Grant: To fulfill the requirements of this grant, the Local Education Agency must submit a plan that intentionally places Highly Effective teachers in leadership roles in order to utilize their talents to increase the capacity to develop more Highly Effective teachers thus increasing student achievement.
- Local Education Agency (LEA) – Title IIA: Title IIA allows LEAs to carry out teacher advancement initiatives which promote professional growth, emphasize multiple career paths (such as paths to becoming a career teacher, mentor teacher, or exemplary teacher), and cover pay differentiation. Title II dollars can also be used to pay for or off-set the costs for advanced degrees.
Obviously, it is important we partner with stakeholders from the higher education institutions down to the very classrooms we lead. As I have said from day one, it is a priority of mine to ensure our schools are filled with highly skilled and effective educators, and those educators should be recognized and rewarded for all the good work they do. We also have to provide districts with the necessary tools to recruit and retain effective educators. As evidenced above, Indiana offers a variety of options to accomplish this goal while also offering alternative licensing pathways.
Lastly, your Indiana Department of Education staff will continue to work with the State Board of Education and our testing partners to review the reliability and validity of current licensing measures. We will also continue to brainstorm additional options which can help us fill our schools with quality educators.