Article Updated Feb. 25
The teacher shortage problem in Oklahoma is a serious issue. According to the state’s 2018 Supply & Demand Report, Oklahoma has lost teachers at an average rate of 5,000 teachers per year over the last decade, with retirement accounting for only 10% of that figure. To counteract this trend, several bills introduced this legislative session are intended to streamline the teaching certification process as a way to get more teachers into the classroom. Here are a few bills that are making waves so far this session:
- First up is House Bill 2748, by Rep. Rhonda Baker. HB 2784 unanimously passed the House general assembly with a vote of 68-0. This bill aims to combat teacher shortage in early childhood and elementary education. It would allow for individuals to forgo the traditional teacher certification process and obtain a one-year alternative teaching certificate for early childhood and elementary education, provided the individual meets specific qualifications like possessing a four-year degree and currently working on relevant professional development criteria through the state. This alternative teaching certificate, if obtained, could then be renewed up to a maximum of three years. By allowing individuals to obtain an alternative teaching certificate in this way, this bill seeks to increase the number of eligible early childhood educators in Oklahoma.
- Senate Bill 0051 by Sen. Carri Hicks unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee with a vote of 11-0. Under current Oklahoma law, to receive a teaching certificate one must successfully complete a number of requirements including passing three exams: the Oklahoma General Education Test (OGET), the Oklahoma Subject Area Test (OSAT), and the Oklahoma Professional Teaching Examination (OPTE). SB 0051 removes the Oklahoma General Education Test (OGET) as a requirement to obtain a traditional or alternative teaching certificate in Oklahoma. By removing the OGET as a requirement for certification, this bill hopes to allow more individuals who are qualified in a particular subject to obtain an Oklahoma teaching certificate.
- Finally, we have Senate Bill 0308, by Sen. Marty Quinn. Currently, Oklahoma law requires an individual to complete a number of requirements, including passing the three exams listed above, to obtain a teaching certificate. SB 0308 would allow a district’s school board to certify an individual to teach if the school board determines that the individual in question possess and has sufficiently demonstrated an expertise in a particular academic discipline. The district certified teacher would then be eligible to teach predetermined subjects and grades that directly correspond to the individual’s area of expertise.
Each of these bills seeks to chip away at the teacher shortage problem in Oklahoma by removing certain requirements and altering the process for teacher certification. By implementing such changes, these measures hope to draw qualified individuals into the teaching profession and provide an accessible pathway for these individuals to transition into a long-term teaching career.
Please be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming member survey to share your opinions on the teacher certification process in Oklahoma. And don’t forget to Check Capitol Corner again soon for developments on these and other similar bills.