Gov. Brad Little has announced the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) in Twin Falls will provide a new non-traditional route to educator preparation in Idaho.
The Workforce Development Council under the Office of the Governor approved an industry sector grant for $1,114,424 to support CSI in providing an accelerated pathway for emergency hires as well as paraprofessionals and career-changers wanting to become certified teachers throughout the state.
“The successful education of every child begins with a great teacher, and that is why we are committed to finding ways to train more teachers and incentivize them to stay in the profession by paying them competitively,” Little said. “The new program at College of Southern Idaho opens up a path for career-changers and others to enter the teaching profession so they can make a difference in the lives of our students. This is great news for those who are qualified and experienced in a certain field and have been thinking about becoming a teacher.”
Earlier this year, Little and the Idaho Legislature approved increases to starting teacher salaries, and the governor plans to seek continued investments in Idaho teachers.
Anyone in Idaho can participate in the new program if they qualify, regardless of location. CSI will employ a hybrid approach, combining online courses and mentoring for in-the-classroom support. The project is estimated to train 830 teachers over the course of the three-year grant period.
These routes allow options for individuals to become certified teachers using assessments of content knowledge and experience to meet the standards that are normally met through the traditional postsecondary educator preparation program.
The collaboration between the Workforce Development Council, the State Board of Education, and CSI is an example of these partners working together for the future of Idaho’s education system.
“Idaho’s employers count on a strong K-12 education to prepare the workforce,” Idaho Workforce Development Council Executive Director Wendi Secrist said. “Idaho’s tight labor market is impacting all industry sectors, including education. This investment ensures that we have pathways into the teaching profession that don’t discriminate based on where individuals live.”
According to the Idaho State Board of Education’s Educator Pipeline report, there is a critical workforce gap for Idaho public education in certain areas of the state and in certain content areas. Idaho’s rural areas, including the Magic Valley, are some of those areas impacted most by the shortages. Approximately 1,500 teachers in Idaho leave the profession annually, and they need to be replaced each succeeding year. Student enrollment growth also increases the need to train additional teachers each year.
“The State Board of Education created a pathway for experienced people holding a college degree to enter the teaching field. The Magic Valley region is particularly affected by teacher shortages, and CSI is leading the way as they respond to a need by providing opportunities for those who have training and qualifications but lack a teaching certificate. CSI is serving both individuals and schools, and the Board expects to see similar programs started in every region of our state,” State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield said.
The groundwork that made this approach possible happened in October of 2017, when the State Board of Education approved an alternative route to teacher certification based on mastery of the educator preparation standards. All alternative routes to certification, including non-traditional routes are required to meet the same high standards as the traditional routes in order to assure highly effective teachers in the classroom.