KINGMAN – The Arizona Board of Education has given the go-ahead to an alternative teacher certification program, and both Kingman Unified School District and Kingman Academy of Learning are stoked.
Arizona State Board of Education approved American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence’s relaunch throughout the state during its Aug. 28 meeting. This green light for the alternative path to teacher certification comes after Gov. Doug Ducey’s urging to allow alternative teacher certification programs to help communities and schools fight the teacher shortage and find qualified, certified teachers.
“We want the most qualified, most talented people leading our classrooms,” Ducey said in his State of the State address earlier this year. “So let’s get with the times, and place trust in our school boards, superintendents and principals by letting them make the hiring decisions and remove the obstacles.”
Making teacher certification paths more accessible is critical as Arizona is in need of more than 2,000 teachers, according to a report by Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association.
American Board, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established by the U.S. Department of Education in 2001 dedicated to building strong communities by preparing, certifying and supporting teachers, focuses on recruiting career changers who already live in communities suffering from the teacher shortage instead of hoping outsiders will move to these areas.
“I always wanted to be a teacher. I knew I wanted to be one before I even finished my degree [in social work],” said Arizona teacher and American Board alum Shantel Tiner. “American Board was the best match because I could study from home and my son was in preschool at the time. American Board gave me the knowledge I needed.”
KAOL District Administrator Susan Chan sees the certification program as a win for Arizona schools.
“This makes sense. Arizona is suffering greatly from a teacher shortage,” she said. “Why not take individuals that don’t have the teaching degree but are willing to enter the teaching field, and provide them with an alternative pathway to obtain certification?”
Heather Shaw-Burton, director of administrative services for KUSD, said the district is up for any help they can get.
“KUSD is excited about another program being approved that can help people in our community, who have a passion for teaching, get their Arizona Teaching Certification,” she said. “There are several programs like this available to future Arizona educators that allow us to ‘grow our own’. This variety also allows teachers on an alternative pathway to pick a program that best fits their needs.”
Burton added that there are differences in the time frames for the various certification programs, some being accelerated enough to grant a certification in a year and others longer.
“We are very fortunate to have several teachers in our district who are currently going through this alternative pathway,” she said. “A number of them were already employees of KUSD who loved working with kids but had education in other fields. Now, they’re excited to be teaching in a classroom.”
American Board helps individuals with a bachelor’s degree prepare for two exams: one to demonstrate their proficiency in teaching skills and the other to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject area they plan to teach.
Arizona Department of Education last year halted some alternative certification programs from accepting new candidates. Since then, dozens of potential teachers have been turned away from the opportunity to earn certification and enter classrooms where they are most needed amidst the state’s teacher shortage.
– American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence provided information for this report.