The College of Southern Idaho has received a grant from Idaho's Workforce Development Council to expand its non-traditional teacher certification program that began last year with 19 students.
What makes CSI’s program unique is that teachers with a variety of backgrounds are eligible, including teaching assistants, volunteers and career-changers. Christina Linder who directs the program, which the State Board of Education approved in 2017, said it is designed to be flexible to meet the varied needs of school districts.
The $1,114,424 grant will allow students to get their certification online, along with in-person mentoring. This will mean students in rural parts of the state can access the course work.
“Teaching recruitment and retention is one of the biggest challenges that our rural schools face,” said Wendi Secrist, the Executive Director of Idaho’s Workforce Development Council.
Around 1,500 teachers in Idaho leave the profession annually, leaving districts scrambling to replace them the following year.
Districts can fill teaching gaps with people who don’t have a teaching certification. Those teachers then have three years to get certified. But Secrist said many teachers leave after those three years, and it may be because they weren’t able to get certified in time.
Students in CSI’s program can complete it at their own pace, but completing all the courses and assessments typically takes five semesters. It costs students $1,000 per teaching module, of which there are five total. In some cases, school districts may have federal money available to cover costs.
About 100 students are enrolled in the courses for next spring. With this grant, the program will train more than 800 teachers in three years.
The grant money will also be used to streamline the assessment process and to bring in national experts to assist students.
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
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