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Regents Adopt Ambitious Plan Tackling Teacher Shortage

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Plan Also Aims to Increase Diversity Among Teachers

Atlanta — January 12, 2005

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia today launched Phase Three of its on-going teacher-preparation initiative, aimed at strengthening all levels of Georgia’s educational system, by implementing a bold plan to double the number and diversity of the teachers the University System prepares by 2010.

The plan, presented to the regents by Associate Vice Chancellor for P-16 Initiatives Dr. Jan Kettlewell, also calls for the University System to work with the Georgia Committee on Quality Teaching to address teacher attrition. The goal is to reduce by one-third the number of new public-school teachers who leave the profession within their first few years by providing them with increased support. According to data from Georgia’s Professional Standards Commission, 15 percent of new teachers hired in Georgia leave after their first year, 26 percent leave after three years and 35 percent after five years. Teachers with only provisional certification leave at more than twice the rate of teachers prepared in traditional, university-based programs.

With projected public-school enrollment increases and no change in the teacher attrition rate, Georgia will need approximately 14,500 new teachers by 2010. Reducing the teacher attrition rate by one-third will drop this number to about 11,600 teachers. The state’s Professional Standards Commission has indicated that 69 percent of the new teachers hired by Georgia public schools in 2003 were needed because of attrition.

“Georgia badly needs more high-quality teachers and more diversity among its teachers,” Kettlewell said. “The shortage we are experiencing is attributable both to the pipeline – the relatively modest number of teachers prepared in the state – and to attrition. We need to make the pipeline more robust by ensuring that the University System of Georgia becomes the primary provider of this state’s teachers. We need to provide minority students in Georgia’s public schools with the role models that are so important to their educational success, and we need to help new teachers succeed by giving them as much support as possible.”

To double the number and diversity of teachers prepared by the University System and reduce teacher attrition, the plan adopted by the regents today will employ the following 10 strategies:

  • Maintain a sustained emphasis on quality. A new continuous improvement and accountability system will, among other measures, ensure that the USG’s 16 statewide teacher-education programs meet all national, state and Board of Regents standards;
  • Raise the University System’s teacher production targets. The USG’s goal is to produce 7,000 new teachers in 2010, up from 3,157 in Fiscal Year 2004 (including 1,555 minority teachers, up from 601 in FY04). Kettlewell noted that this ambitious target will require additional funding and that the regents have included $10 million for this purpose in their FY06 Budget Request;
  • Expand the role of the state’s two-year public colleges in preparing teachers. This will involve helping more students pass the PRAXIS I test (the qualifying exam for entering a teacher-education program), recruiting teacher candidates and giving students more convenient access to teaching programs offered by four-year institutions by hosting them on the campuses of USG two-year colleges;
  • Make the USG’s new Teacher Career Center available to all USG teacher-preparation programs and two-year colleges. The center’s staff will help connect potential teacher candidates with USG institutions, market teacher-education programs, and update the public on the progress USG institutions are making in meeting the goals of the “Double the Numbers, Double the Diversity of Teachers Initiative;”
  • Increase the emphasis on pre-kindergarten teaching by offering baccalaureate programs for pre-K teachers and working with the state’s Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE) to allow DTAE-prepared teachers to become fully certified by completing two years in a USG pre-K program;
  • Place special emphasis on the recruitment of teachers to teach science and mathematics, two fields experiencing an extreme shortage of teachers. The University System will use its Partnership for Reform in Science and Mathematics (PRISM) initiative, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, to help USG teacher-education programs with this strategy;
  • Expand the number of pathways by which those interested in second careers can become teachers. Paraprofessionals, career-changers and those who teach English language learners will find it easier to enter USG teacher-education programs;
  • Offer on-line programs and increase the flexibility of course scheduling to make teacher-preparation programs as convenient and efficient as possible for students;
  • Approve more teacher-education programs. The Regents approved the addition of a teacher-education program at Dalton State College, in Dalton, in November. Today, they approved a similar proposal for Macon State College, in Macon. More programs will be added as needed in the future; and
  • Reduce by one-third the attrition rate for new teachers by partnering with the Georgia Committee on Quality Teaching. New teachers will be mentored during their first two years of teaching. Teachers will be asked what conditions contribute to their decisions to stay or leave and recommendations will be developed to help public schools improve working conditions. Opportunities for teachers to take on leadership roles in their schools without abandoning their classrooms will be explored.

The Board of Regents launched an initiative to strengthen education at all levels in Georgia in 1998. The first phase of this initiative – conducted between 1998 and 2002 – involved strengthening the quality of Georgia’s teachers through the adoption and implementation of the regents’ “Principles for the Preparation of Educators for the Schools.” In Phase Two – implemented from 2002 to 2005 – the regents have worked to establish multiple pathways for those who wish to become teachers and continued to strengthen teacher quality. Knowledge gained during the first two phases will be brought to bear in Phase Three, Kettlewell said, as the regents and System staff implement the “Double the Number, Double the Diversity of Teachers Prepared by the University System of Georgia and Retained by the State’s Public Schools” initiative.

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