How one Mississippi college is trying to tackle teacher shortages

Mar 13, 2018 by

Tuition discounts for assistant teachers, scholarships to learn how to teach math are among the programs offered

In 2017, Mississippi identified four subjects and teaching specialties and 41 school districts as “shortage areas,” meaning there are not enough qualified teachers for those subjects or positions in elementary and secondary schools. The shortage of teachers has a real impact, especially on some schools in the state’s poorest districts. Roughly 17 percent of teachers in low-income schools in Mississippi lack a credential in their subject area, compared to 6 percent in higher-income schools. Research shows this can have a negative impact on students. When teachers are unqualified or underqualified, student scores on standardized exams are lower, and students are more likely to require remedial education.

These are among the reasons why William Carey University, a private school in Hattiesburg, has launched or is planning to launch several initiatives to tackle teacher shortages across the state. The school has partnered with more than a dozen school districts around Mississippi to offer free or low-cost paths for aspiring teachers, career-changers, and assistant teachers who wish to become lead classroom teachers. Here’s a look at the principal programs William Carey now offers or plans to launch soon:

  • A path for assistant teachers to become certified teachers: Assistant teachers in Mississippi make an average starting salary of $12,500, under state law. Many of these assistant teachers are unable to become certified because they must first finish an undergraduate degree. That can be difficult when working full time, said Ben Burnett, dean of the William Carey University School of Education. To help assistant teachers work toward their certification, the university is launching a program that will discount tuition by up to 60 percent, provide online and teleconference classes, and move required classes to the late afternoon, after assistant teachers are done working. “A lot of these assistant teachers don’t have the responsibility that a classroom teacher does,” Burnett said,” but it’s safe to say they’re working just as hard as the classroom teacher. We want to move them into certified positions to increase their earning potential, but also to solve the teacher shortage in their district.”

continue: How one Mississippi college is trying to tackle teacher shortages – The Hechinger Report

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