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San Diego State To Get Future Teachers From College To Classroom In 4 Years

SDSU Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union Aug. 7, 2014.

Photo by Milan Kovacevic

Above: SDSU Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union Aug. 7, 2014.

San Diego State University announced Wednesday that it was awarded nearly $750,000 in state grants to fast-track the education of prospective teachers in order to reduce a shortage of educators in California.

The three grants will allow SDSU to create programs that will allow students to earn both their undergraduate degrees and teaching credentials within four years. The process usually takes five years.

“With the help of the grants from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, we will pursue the goal of providing better preparation in a shorter period of time,'' said Joe Johnson, dean of the College of Education.

The program would shave off two dozen or so units and get students classroom experience as early as their freshman year.

Associate Dean Nadine Bezuk said graduates will be just as qualified as those on the traditional track, and they’ll be filling a vast need.

"Several years ago, teachers were getting pink slips and folks were discouraged by that news (from) becoming teachers," she said. "That’s completely turned around now."

In a fall survey conducted by the Learning Policy Institute, 75 percent of school districts in California reported having difficulty in hiring enough qualified teachers, and the figure rises for districts in low-income areas.

The California Teachers Association estimates that more than 100,000 teachers will need to be replaced over the next decade.

Education officials believe that the extra year to earn a credential leads some students to pursue another career. Bezuk pointed out that paying for an extra year of school could be a financial barrier for many, making it even harder to recruit teachers from diverse backgrounds.

"We’re hoping this is going to make the program more affordable to all students, but particularly students who have financial need, students from very diverse backgrounds," Bezuk said. "We want to continue to diversify our teaching force."

In San Diego Unified, about 80 percent of students were minorities in 2012, compared to about 30 percent of their teachers.

SDSU faculty will develop integrated teacher education programs for special education, bilingual education and math and science. Those areas have seen the highest demand for new teachers in recent years, according to the school.

Bezuk said the school hopes to eventually offer the four-year track for all credentials.

“We are proud that our nationally recognized education researchers received these significant grants from the state of California,'' said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman. “These resources will help our faculty and staff develop innovative four-year teaching credential programs — programs that will, ultimately, support the recruitment of teachers and the excellence of our K-12 schools.''

The college, which was the only applicant to receive grant money for three accelerated programs, plans to enroll up to 30 students in each of the four-year programs in the fall 2018 semester.

The traditional five-year track will be maintained to provide flexibility for students.

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