Students hoping to earn their teaching credential quickly at Stanislaus State now have the option to do so, thanks to a new four-year teacher preparation program which began this fall semester.
Stanislaus State is one of 17 California State University campuses to have earned a grant designed to help ease California’s teacher shortage through the Four-Year Integrated Teacher Education Program, which enables qualified students to complete both a bachelor of arts degree in Liberal Studies and a credential in four years, rather than the usual five.
“I hope it will help to alleviate the teacher shortage, especially on the special education and STEM sides, because that’s where the shortage is most dire,” Stan State’s Dean of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work Dr. Oddmund Myhre said. “The shortage is so enormous that we need a lot of different pathways and different options to try and make teaching attractive to people.”
The university received a grant in 2016 from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing which made the four-year credential program possible, providing $240,127 toward creating the pathway. The program puts a special emphasis on expanding the number of teacher candidates earning STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), special education and bilingual credentials.
According to Myhre, approximately 184 students graduated from Stanislaus State with a multiple subject credential, authorizing them to teach in public elementary schools, while 94 earned a single subject credential for teaching specific subject areas in middle and high schools. Just 36 graduated with special education credentials, he said.
With a third of teachers nearing the age for retirement, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning estimates that California will need an additional 100,000 teachers over the next decade. With a program that intends to produce quality teachers at a faster-than-normal pace, Myhre is optimistic that Stanislaus State can help contribute qualified candidates to the public education system.
“I think it will be an attractive option for a lot of students in our region,” he said. “We will produce teachers faster, so in that sense we will produce more over time.”
The four-year credential program is rigorous, requiring students to take a full load of 15 units per semester throughout their college stay and summer courses during their last two years. The benefits, though, are worth the dedication.
“It’s for students who are sure they want to be teachers and are really here to work hard to get there a year faster,” Myhre said. “The program’s link to the Liberal Studies track lets us start preparing them for teaching early, so we are able to stretch the teacher preparation over many years rather than the one year that’s in the traditional model.”
Myhre added that in order to attract teacher recruits, the university works closely with local community colleges and high schools, encouraging students in both stages of schooling to consider education as a vocational pathway. Part of the incentive for prospective candidates for the four-year credential program include saving around $20,000 by eliminating a year of school, as well as eligibility for $16,000 in state and federal grants, making the process even more affordable.
Despite the far reach for teacher candidates around the region, Myhre understands that the profession is a difficult one.
“It’s not easy to become a teacher,” Myhre said. “The requirements, the training and the testing is a lot different than a few years ago. It takes a lot.”
For more information on Stanislaus State Four-Year Integrated Teacher Education Program, contact the College of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work at 209-667-3652.