West Virginia

WSAZ Investigates | New data shows increase in W.Va. certified teacher shortage

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) – New figures show that the shortage of certified teachers is growing in West Virginia.

What was 600 classrooms with one non-certified teacher in 2015 reached nearly 1,200 last year, and now that number is 1,544 for this school year.

Education officials generally describe an uncertified teacher as someone teaching outside of their area of ​​expertise, or as a long-term replacement.

Figures released this weekend show the problem is worsening across the board.

The largest gap is in high school, including vocational education, and special education at all grade levels. Almost 430 certified educators are missing in each of these categories.

The elementary school – including Kindergarten and Pre-K – is now short of more than 300 certified teachers, all according to data compiled in October and released just this weekend.

WSAZ NewsChannel 3 went to Carla Warren, Director of the Office of Educational Educator Development and Support at the State Department of Education.

“If you look at your numbers this year compared to last year and the years before, how concerned are you?” asked Curtis Johnson, NewsChannel 3 investigative reporter.

“We’re very concerned,” Warren replied. “We know that the path to strengthening the pipeline in West Virginia is by retaining the good teachers we have and continuing to work toward strong compensation packages, but also creating opportunity by breaking down barriers for all individuals who are teachers.” want to be in West Virginia.”

Warren says retirements outpace interest from new teachers.

“We see that every year we come out with a deficit, and as we spoke before Curtis, that’s happening nationally,” she said. “It’s not unique to West Virginia.”

“Is the state doing enough to address this problem?” Johnson asked.

“I’ll never say we’re doing enough because we’re always striving to keep improving, reaching more people and supporting more educators,” Warren replied.

While Warren anticipated this year’s surge, she said she also sees hope. She explained that alternative certification programs are beginning to show results when it comes to helping adults transition from other careers to teaching.

Warren also believes a program that allows students to earn college credits and gain teaching experience before graduating from high school will yield results by the end of 2024.

“I think the tools are there,” she said. “I think we’ve streamlined it and made it into a program that gives them a lot of options. Adult learners want options. You want to do it yourself. They want to be able to log in when they’re ready. It has to be cost effective. And it needs a high level of support.”

Those interested in becoming a teacher—adults or students—are encouraged to visit Teach WV’s website at www.teachwv.com. Education officers provide information there on how to teach.

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