PENNSYLVANIA — The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is working to create a solution to the growing shortage of special education teachers in the state. Recently, they announced $1.5 million in grant funding available to institutions of higher education (IHE) with school district partnerships that can expedite the process of certification for prospective educators. Dr. Khalid N. Mumin, Acting Secretary of Education, reinforces the importance of such initiatives when citing, “This grant funding will enable schools to meet their unique staffing needs and provide more opportunities for flexible, accelerated certification for prospective educators”.
“This grant funding will enable schools to meet their unique staffing needs and provide more opportunities for flexible, accelerated certification for prospective educators.,” Mumin continued.
Pennsylvania is facing a major shortage of educators across the Commonwealth. A decade ago, roughly 20,000 teacher certifications were issued each year, while in 2021 only about 6,000 were issued. The Shapiro Administration is taking action to address the education workforce shortage and make it a little bit easier for Pennsylvanians to become a teacher, because creating real opportunity for our children starts with having enough well-qualified, well-paid teachers in our classrooms.
In his budget address, Governor Josh Shapiro unveiled a refundable tax credit of up to $2,500 for three years for anyone who earns a new license or certification in education, nursing, or law enforcement, to help more Pennsylvanians become teachers and combat the shortage of education professionals in Pennsylvania. Governor Shapiro’s budget also includes an additional $103.8 million in funding for special education in Pennsylvania. This funding will support school districts as they provide high-quality education services to students with disabilities and special needs.
Through the Accelerated Program for PK-12 Special Education Teacher Certification, grants are available to colleges and universities with approved PK-12 special education certification programs to partner with at least one school district, approved private school, career and technical center, charter school, cyber charter school, or intermediate unit to provide individuals who currently hold bachelor’s degrees with summer field experiences, mentoring by experienced special educators during the school year, and deliver a postbaccalaureate program for PK-12 special education teacher certification within 18 months. Programs must offer most of the coursework during summer 2023 and summer 2024; provide a combination of in-person and virtual options for flexibility and support to the accelerated program participants working full-time; and ensure a minimum of 12 weeks of student teaching.
The maximum grant award for IHEs is $100,000 and the funds are available through December 31, 2024. IHEs should apply through the Attract-Prepare-Retain (APR) Repository by April 7, 2023.
This program builds on the Department’s efforts to recruit and retain teachers in Pennsylvania. PDE’s educator workforce strategy works to ensure there is a robust pipeline of educators in place to provide a high-quality education to learners of all ages across the Commonwealth.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, visit its website.
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