Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s teachers have stepped up through constant challenges and changes to support students and ensure continued access to learning and essential peer and adult relationships. They are now critical to help students recover from the pandemic and gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and careers.
Yet at the time we need excellent teachers more than ever, the pandemic only exacerbated pre-existing teacher shortages. State leaders are committed to growing the teacher workforce and diversifying the teacher pipeline to ensure all children have access to excellent teachers. One way they’re doing this is by supporting teacher recruitment, retention and support with the roughly $200 billion in aid federal leaders appropriated for schools in 2020 and 2021.
States are using federal funds in innovative ways to support aspiring teachers. Some are looking to people currently in school buildings – current students, or other adults working in schools without full licensure.
Tennessee, Missouri and Maryland, among other states, are using federal aid to fund “grow your own” programs that ease or eliminate costs for high school students or paraprofessionals to enter the teaching profession, often by studying under a master teacher.
Virginia is using $12 million in federal funding to support teacher recruitment and retention, including $2 million to cover tuition and other fees for provisionally-licensed educators and other school employees to become fully-licensed teachers.
Other states are directly addressing costs for those currently studying to become teachers.
Mississippi is partnering with five universities to award more than $9.8 million that will cover full tuition and other expenses for up to 240 individuals to get graduate degrees in elementary and secondary education.
Nevada is using $20.7 million in relief funding the Incentivizing Pathways to Teaching grant program, which supports pre-service teachers as they complete coursework and student teaching at Nevada public universities - up to $2,000 for tuition assistance at any time during the final three semesters of their program, and up to $8,400 in stipends when student teaching. And Oklahoma is using $12.75 million to fund stipends to an estimated 1,300 future educators.
Retention and Support
It’s also important to support and retain teachers already in the classroom, including offering professional development so educators can be prepared to serve children in changing learning environments.
In Illinois, for example, the state will use $2 million in federal aid to support a statewide system of affinity groups for teachers of color. The groups will bring teachers of color together to examine issues facing them, including causes of attrition, and to develop policy recommendations.
Several states have partnered with Donors Choose to fund teachers’ classroom projects and ensure they have the resources they need. Two states, Oklahoma and Utah launched projects this year, with Oklahoma offering up to $800 per project and $6 million in total, and Utah up to $1,000 per project and $12 million in total. Nevada undertook a similar effort in fall 2021, funding 10,993 educator projects of up to $800 each, using a total of $8 million in recovery funds.
North Dakota is similarly supporting up to $10,000 in teacher-led projects every three months for the next two and a half years. The first funding will go to support a snowshoeing project to help students learn orienteering and GPS interpretation while improving mental health through outdoor exercise.
And cross the country, from Arizona to New Hampshire, state education departments are teaming up with higher education systems to offer trainings for educators, covering topics from virtual learning to math and social-emotional learning.
Finally, shortages of other adults in the schools have been a challenge during the pandemic. To ease the shortage of non-teaching staff in schools – bus drivers, food service workers, playground monitors and others – Maine created the Guest School Staff Member campaign, which encourages citizens to volunteer in schools, streamlines the application process and uses federal aid to reimburse the cost of required fingerprinting and background checks.
The Council of Chief State School Officers is proud to support these states and others as they use federal funding to support students and teachers in innovative and effective ways.
You May Also Be Interested In ...