State approves new teacher education programs to fight shortage

(Source: Stock image/Pixabay)
(Source: Stock image/Pixabay)
Published: Jun. 25, 2019 at 10:41 AM EDT
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In an effort to combat Virginia’s teacher shortage, 15 Virginia colleges and universities will start new four-year teacher education degree programs this fall.

The Virginia Board of Education approved the programs last week. The State Council for Higher Education of Virginia, which oversees public colleges and universities, approved the new programs at public institutions in May.

The College of William and Mary, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia State, George Mason, James Madison, Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth universities are projected to produce 400 more teachers through 26 new bachelor degree programs. Ferrum, Randolph, Roanoke and Sweet Briar colleges; Liberty, Marymount and Shenandoah universities as well as the University of Lynchburg will roll out 27 additional programs.

SCHEV didn’t have to approve the programs at the private schools.

“Several of these new programs will address critical shortage areas, including elementary education, middle education, special education, mathematics and science,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said in a news release.

“These additional teachers will make a big difference as the Virginia Department of Education works in partnership with local school divisions to ensure that every child in the commonwealth is taught by a fully qualified teacher.”

College students pursuing a teaching career get an undergraduate degree in the subject area they want to teach and then have to enter a graduate program to get an education degree. It can take, at a minimum, five years to complete, making it expensive and a deterrent to people becoming teachers, especially for potential teachers of color, according to a 2017 study on teacher shortages and a 2016 study on teacher diversity.

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