Crisis NOT Averted
Schools have been plagued since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the peak of school shutdowns “at least 55.1 million students in 124,000 U.S. public and private schools” were affected (Education Week). For the students able to return to the classroom, it didn’t look the same. From socially-distanced desks to plexiglass partitions, students and teachers were forced to adapt.
Despite best efforts, the challenge of teaching was exacerbated under a “new normal.,” from Zoom classrooms to hybrid teaching. However, the effects of COVID-19 will not be constrained after the virus is contained and protected against. Sadly, COVID has compounded a crisis already growing in schools: teacher shortage. As reported in the Wall Street Journal (December 15, 2020), early retirements and quarantines are hastening the dire need for new teachers.
Teacher Shortage Still Exists
In November, public-school employment was down 8.7% from February; the lowest level since 2000 (Bauerlein & Koh, 2020). This includes teachers who have quit, retirements, extended leave of absences, and layoffs. To add insult to the problem, teachers are picking up the slack left by these voids by over-extending their service to schools including cleaning their own classrooms and volunteering as crossing guards (Bauerlein & Koh, 2020).
In response to this crisis, schools are beginning to compromise long-held standards for the teaching position to mitigate untenable classroom sizes. Missouri lowered the substitute requirement to simply a high-school diploma and one online training course. In a similar move, Iowa lowered the minimum age for substitute teaching from 21 to 20 (Bauerlein & Koh, 2020). And though these efforts might place individuals in the classroom, the cost to do so is the price of student learning. “A November report on test results of more than 2 million math students found they had fallen behind, needing as much as 12 weeks to catch up to where they were expected to be in the fall” (Bauerlein & Koh, 2020).
Alternative Teacher Certification Programs Needed
The crux of this problem is that there is no pipeline for new teachers to fill the growing vacancies. Baurlein and Koh (2020) note that “even without the pandemic, it was unlikely the pipeline of college students… would keep pace with retirements and attrition” (Bauerlein & Koh, 2020). Part of the solution is to create a new pipeline for great teachers through proven alternative certification programs. Unfortunately, some alternative certification programs have soured the work of the quality alternative certification programs.
iteach prides itself on providing the highest quality teachers with the lowest barriers to enter the education profession. We do not compromise rigor and student learning expectations for the sake of speed. What iteach does do is provide immediately applicable training and exceptional in-class support to ensure our teacher candidates are the best teachers with the highest impact on student learning.
Given the growing crisis, iteach is extending our offer to help states reduce the teacher shortage while increasing student achievement. We are excited about the great work that lies ahead as we know the results of such hard work will indeed change lives.
Bauerlein, Valerie., Koh, Yoree. (2020, December 15). Teacher Shortage Compounds Covid Crisis in Schools. Wall Street Journal. Retreived from: WSJ.org.
Education Week. Map: Coronvirus and School Closures in 2019-2020. September 16, 2020. Retreived from: https://www.edweek.org/leadership/map-coronavirus-and-school-closures-in-2019-2020/2020/03
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