Oklahoma Increases Emergency Teacher Certifications in Response to Shortage

The number of emergency certified teachers in the state of Oklahoma has increased since 2015 to assist in the lack of certified teachers.

According to statistics on ok.gov, the number of educators with issued emergency certification by area and district was 69 during the 2007-08 school year. The amount has increased to 2,153 between 2017-2018 and is still increasing.

“The large number of emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma is very bad news because this reflects a severe shortage of certified teachers who are properly prepared and competent to teach children,” said James Machell, dean of University of Central Oklahoma College of Education and Professional Studies.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education, emergency certification should only be requested when the district has exhausted every option to find an appropriately certified person for the open position.

“They may have good classroom management skills or are good with kids, but they might not know how to teach,” Machell said.

The UCO College of Education is working to elevate the teaching profession so that it is more attractive, which might lead to increased enrollment in teacher preparation programs, Machell said. This would lead to a reduction in the need for emergency certified teachers.

“Most emergency certified teachers have little or no training in how to teach and how students learn,” Machell said.

June Chong, a CEPS alumna who is currently a pre-K teacher in Oklahoma, said that she thinks it is more unfair for the children compared to the certified teachers because they should get teachers who have the education and knowledge to teach them.

“I believe it makes a difference having a teacher who has been certified in education and understands appropriate methods and ways to teach children compared to one who has not,” Chong said.  “It will definitely impact the students learning and classroom environment.”

The OSDE stated that in 2008 Oklahoma’s state minimum teacher salary was $31,600 for first year teaching for bachelors degree holders and $32,800 for masters degree holders back then in 2008 and 10 years later those numbers remain the same.

Due to the shortage of certified teachers, emergency certified teachers are in the need. Emergency teacher certification is approved by the Oklahoma State Board of Education, which only requires a two step process to apply.

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