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Regents Launch Initiative to Meet State Teacher Shortage

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Atlanta — November 20, 2002

The University System of Georgia in partnership with Valdosta State University has received two grants totaling $4.4 million from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to launch a new initiative - “Destination: Teaching–Customized Pathways to Get You There” -the Board of Regents learned today during its monthly meeting.

The initiative - which initially will target people who want to change careers and move into teaching - is designed to help meet the state’s increasing need for teachers. A study by the Professional Standards Commission, Status Report 2001, estimates that - due in part to recent increases in the number of students in Georgia’s classrooms and in the numbers of teachers reaching retirement age - Georgia’s schools will need an additional 11,180 teachers by 2006. “‘Destination: Teaching’ will offer a broader group of students increased access to the University System’s teacher-preparation programs,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith. “As we reach out in new ways to more diverse groups of potential teachers, we continue to stand behind the quality of any teacher we prepare.”

The five-year federal grants will fund several initial priorities of the teacher-preparation recruitment initiative. The University System will create a Teacher Career Center to market and provide information about USG teacher-preparation and professional-development programs through “one-stop shopping.” Career counselors will be available at the Teacher Career Center and at participating campuses to help potential teachers select and enroll in appropriate USG programs. Scholarships will be awarded to aspiring teachers who commit to working in high-need schools.

In its infancy, the initiative will focus on five populations as potential candidates for USG teacher-preparation programs: recent college graduates, mid-career professionals, retired military personnel, pre-kindergarten and para-professionals already teaching in the classroom. More target groups will be added as the initiative matures.

“Destination: Teaching” builds upon a comprehensive teacher preparation initiative adopted by the Board of Regents in 1998, now underway in the 15 universities that prepare teachers and their two-year college partners within the University System. The goal of the teacher-preparation recruitment initiative is to increase the number and diversity of teachers prepared by the University System.

In partnership with Valdosta State, the University System will use the $4.4 million in grant funds to pilot the initiative in six regions of the state. Participating USG campuses have formed partnerships with selected school districts in their regions to supply teachers for high-need schools. A total of 27 school districts are participating in the teacher-preparation recruitment initiative.

University System pilot institutions in each region are as follows:

  1. Albany State University and Bainbridge College
  2. Armstrong Atlantic State University and Coastal Georgia Community College
  3. Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College
  4. Columbus State University and Georgia Southwestern State University
  5. Georgia Southern University and East Georgia College
  6. Valdosta State University, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Waycross College and South Georgia College.

“University System teacher-preparation institutions have a responsibility to the students they admit,” said Jan Kettlewell, associate vice chancellor for P-16 initiatives. “We believe we should enable each of our students to obtain the Regents’ Guarantee, become fully certified, increase their skills and abilities during their first two years of teaching, and continue supporting teacher success through high-quality professional development programs. Kettlewell also announced that Patricia Paterson, a USG graduate and former teacher, will serve as executive director of the USG teacher-preparation recruitment initiative.

“Destination: Teaching” builds on and expands existing routes to teacher certification within the University System, all leading to the Regents’ “Guarantee,” in which the System’s 15 universities that prepare teachers guarantee that their graduates are accomplished in bringing diverse students to high levels of learning. All teacher candidates must meet the same performance standards, regardless of which pathway is used to obtain certification. Candidates will be pre-assessed to determine their current knowledge and skills in relation to the performance standards. The substance and length of each program will vary according to the teacher candidate’s existing knowledge and skills. Potential teachers will be able to choose the most appropriate route for them and will receive support as they progress through their customized program.

The Teacher Career Center is projected to be operational by Spring 2003, with the first “Destination: Teaching” cohorts beginning classes in Summer 2003.

Aspiring teachers interested in the program should contact the program liaison in their region:

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