OKLAHOMA CITY (24 January 2017) – The State Department of Education would be required to track comprehensive data about emergency teaching certificates it issues each year, under a measure filed by a Tulsa County legislator.
House Bill 1362 by Rep. Regina Goodwin would direct the agency to publish an annual report about all emergency certificates it authorizes. The data, which would be posted on the agency’s website by June 30 each year, would include:
Ÿ the total number of certificates issued in a particular school year;
Ÿ the name of each teacher who received an emergency certificate, the school district which requested the teacher, the particular school in which that teacher taught classes, and the subject matter taught by the teacher;
Ÿ demographic information about that school, including student poverty levels, racial composition, and disabilities percentages;
Ÿ the total length of time the teacher with the emergency certification taught at that school.
In a related matter, Goodwin has filed House Bill 1359 to give Oklahoma teachers a $5,000 pay raise effective with the 2017-18 school year.
The Legislature has not approved a teacher pay raise since school year 2008, House research documents indicate. “Our teacher salaries are no longer competitive,” the Tulsa Democrat said. “I personally know of three teachers who left Oklahoma for much higher pay; one went to Texas, one to Missouri, and one to the East Coast. And at least one of them is earning $25,000 more after moving away.”
“We need to know where teachers who receive emergency certification are being placed,” said Goodwin, a member of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education. “I want to know what kind of impact certified teachers have on student performance,” she said last year.
The issue of teacher qualifications has grown in importance over the past couple of years, because of the sheer number of emergency teacher certifications issued to fill hundreds of vacancies in teaching ranks across the state.
For example, the State Board of Education approved more than 500 emergency teacher certifications in August 2015 and 381 emergency certifications in July 2016. In comparison, 30 emergency teaching certificates were issued during the entire 2011-12 school year.
The state issued 1,063 emergency certifications requested by 265 school districts during the 2015-16 school year, and 1,082 from July through December 2016, ledgers reflect.
The principal areas in which emergency certifications were issued the last two years were elementary education, early childhood education, science, mathematics and social studies. Applicants for certification must pass a test in their requested subject area.
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