Alternative certification programs in SC helping address teacher shortage

Alternative certification programs in SC helping address teacher shortage

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Palmetto State Teachers Association, like many other teacher organizations across the state, will be waiting anxiously for The Center for Education, Recruitment, Retention and Advancement’s (CERRA’s) Supply and Demand report.

For the 2018-19, CERRA reported there were 621 teacher vacancies when classes began. Palmetto State Teachers Association Executive Director Kathy Maness said, “I have a feeling the numbers will be a little higher and that is a major concern.”

State Superintendent Molly Spearman said, “There could be some increases in class sizes somewhere.” She said school districts are using different ways to fill open positions.

School districts are hiring international teachers, long term subs, bringing back retired teachers into the classroom, using the VirtualSC School and even one school district is hiring student teachers as full-time teachers.

According to the Department of Education, there are many alternative certification programs that can help alleviate the teacher shortage. One of those alternative pathways is the “Program of Alternative Certification for Educators” also known as PACE.

PACE was started back in 1984 to address a critical teacher shortage across the state. “We’ve had some South Carolina Teachers of the Year go through the PACE program,” Maness said.

Through PACE, people with non-teaching degrees can work as teachers at public schools in a PACE approved subject area. Their teaching position is based on their degree’s concentrations and their coursework. When they enter the program they are trained on how to be a teacher and earn their certification.

According to the Department of Education’s in order to qualify for PACE, applicants must meet these requirements:

  • Did not student teach in a traditional teacher preparation program;
  • Conferred Bachelor’s degree that matches eligible certification field(s);
  • Passing score on the appropriate ETS Praxis II Subject Assessment;
  • Current all-clear FBI/SLED background check; and
  • Individuals who have participated in, but not completed, other alternative certification routes in South Carolina may not be eligible for participation in PACE. If you have participated in another alternative program recognized in South Carolina, please contact the Office of Alternative Certification prior to initiating the application process for PACE.

Maness said, “People who have degrees in something other than education and want to do something about this teacher crisis, should look into the program.”

Officials said the program has made a big difference but more needs to be done to recruit teachers. Spearman said, “I’m trying to encourage folks to go into education. We want to have support not just in the right salary, but with mental health counselors more school resources officers and other resources teachers need to be successful in the classroom.”

For more information on PACE click here.

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