Teacher Shortage Task Force unveils cost-effective recommendations to stem crisis


OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 17, 2015) — The Oklahoma State Department of Education’s (OSDE) Teacher Shortage Task Force today unveiled multiple new recommendations to alleviate the statewide teacher shortage crisis, which has resulted in 977 emergency certifications being awarded thus far this school year.

Representatives from the task force presented a preliminary report to the State Board of Education at its monthly meeting in Oklahoma City. In a unanimous vote, the Board passed a resolution in support of the Teacher Shortage Task Force and its recommendations. A copy of the report has been shared with legislative leaders and the governor’s office.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister praised the task force for returning its initial list of recommendations in less than three months.

“The Teacher Shortage Task Force has offered a slate of creative, cost-effective steps that could begin to stem Oklahoma's growing teacher shortage. It is imperative that we begin to test solutions to this crisis as soon as possible,” Hofmeister said. “While the task force is just getting started, it is already identifying actions we can take at the state, district and site level. Teachers are every school’s most valuable resource, which means any real solution to the shortage – no matter how small it may seem – ultimately benefits schoolchildren. Our kids can't wait any longer for us to address this crisis, and I applaud the task force for its first round of recommendations.”

Although the task force is still in its first stage and will likely continue to add and refine recommendations, the nine ideas detailed in its preliminary report offer solutions at all levels of teaching – from streamlining the certification process for new teachers to creating new structures within schools to better reward effective, long-serving educators. All nine recommendations would require legislative action.

Providing scholarships to cover certification exam fees and offering paychecks and other incentives to student teachers who sign up to work in higher-need schools are among the task force recommendations. Other recommendations would facilitate collaboration with the business community and make it easier for those in other fields to enter the teaching profession.

One recommendation would increase the limit for adjunct teachers from 90 hours per semester to 270 hours per semester, effectively allowing professionals from outside public education to share their unique skills and teach three hours of classes a day instead of one.

Another would weigh work experience with grade point averages for alternative certification. Taking work history into consideration would remove a barrier that currently blocks talented professionals with less-than-stellar grade point averages from becoming teachers. For instance, a soldier exiting the military with a low college GPA but who had since shown exemplary skill in the service would not be automatically ruled out based on old grades.

“These recommendations are the first step in our ongoing process to address Oklahoma’s severe teacher shortage. The volunteers serving on this task force, who include legislators, educators, business leaders and others, will continue to refine existing recommendations and create new ones that can be enacted at every level of our state education system,” said Dr. Robyn Miller, deputy superintendent for educator effectiveness and policy research at OSDE.

The OSDE Teacher Shortage Task Force was created in September 2015 to craft a list of strategies to stem the crisis and test their effectiveness at helping students and schools. A more detailed final report, including measuring the effectiveness of implemented strategies, is expected to be released in fall 2016.

 

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Last updated on December 17, 2015