Shortage of teachers in CTE prompts credentialing options

Shortage of teachers in CTE prompts credentialing options

(Calif.) Teachers interested in career technical education should be allowed to gain industry experience while also working in the classroom, under a proposal set for consideration this week by the state’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Facing a shortage of teachers trained to instruct students in a wide range of industries from farming and natural resources to construction, energy and new media–the CTC assembled an advisory panel a year ago to come up with some recommendations.

In addition to a plan that would give districts some flexibility on using teachers that don’t have all the industry experience needed, the CTC will also consider allowing part time CTE teachers to take on classes in related fields, and a plan that would permit districts to hire CTE instructors from community colleges.

Although the Legislature has over the years paid some attention to the educational needs of students that are not college bound, it was in 2015 that Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers agreed to put up $250 million for competitive grants to upgrade curriculum for CTE and better link high academic standards with exposure to the work place.

All the new money, along with changes in the requirements for receiving a CTE credential made in 2013, has resulted in a significant gap between the need for teachers with industry experience and the numbers of them willing to work for schools.

Currently, the state requirements for someone to obtain at CTE teaching credential are:

  • That they have a high school diploma or a GED;
  • That they have a minimum of three years of work experience in the sector for which they are applying for the CTE credential;
  • That they pass the background check;
  • That they enroll in a Commission-approved CTE teacher preparation program so that the program will submit a recommendation to the Commission; and
  • That they pay the credential fee.

Once a candidate has the Preliminary CTE teaching credential, they must also complete an orientation requirement within the first two months of teaching and the remainder of the nine unit teacher training program within the three years that the Preliminary credential is valid.

Of those requirements, the three-years of work experience appears to be one of the biggest hurdles in getting more qualified teachers.

The advisory group that looked at the problem concluded the easiest solution would be to give incoming teachers more time to complete the work experience while allowing them to also work in the classroom. They also suggested dropping the minimum number of hours needed to 250 hours from the existing 1,000 hour minimum.

Staff has said that if the CTC wanted to make those changes the board would probably need to create a new intern credential. They have suggested the minimum number of hours be dropped to 500.

Another way to encourage professionals to join the teaching profession is to improve the options for part-time CTE teachers. The work panel found that many CTE programs are not large enough to support a full-time staff. As a result, some part-time instructors end up returning to the industry from which they came.

The advisory panel said that if CTE teacher were able to teach in the related single subject field, many more would remain with schools.

Finally, there’s the question of whether CTE instructors at community colleges should be authorized to teach at the high school level too. To make the transition now, a candidate would need to start at the beginning and obtain a CTE credential even though the person might have years of CTE teaching experience.

The work group suggests that the CTC consider allowing the option with the condition that the incoming teacher receives some training for working with younger students and with teaching English learners.