UVA, other colleges to offer new teacher education degrees and programs

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Colleges and universities across Virginia can now offer new teacher education degrees and programs, including the University of Virginia.

Governor Ralph Northam announced Monday the state policy board for elementary, secondary and post-secondary education have approved 53 new teacher preparation programs and 25 new degrees.

According to a release, this will allow graduates to become teachers after earning four-year degrees in education.

"We must remain focused on meeting the growing needs of our public education system to prepare the Commonwealth's students for success and secure Virginia's economic future," said Northam. "As we work to strengthen Virginia's educator pipeline, I am pleased to see the approval of these comprehensive changes that will create new pathways to the classroom and help increase both the supply and diversity of quality teachers in the Commonwealth."

Last month, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia approved new degree programs at seven public institutions of higher education.

Then the state Board of Education, which sets standards for all teacher preparation programs in Virginia, approved new public preparation programs last week.

Secretary of Education Atif Qarni says this will eliminate a barrier of extra years of schools that are traditionally required for getting a teaching license, thus encouraging more students to pursue careers in teaching.

The release says the Task Force for Diversifying Virginia's Educator Pipeline and the Advisory Committee on Teacher Shortages have recommended, in 2016 and 2017 respectively, allowing teachers to enter the profession with undergraduate degrees in education.

During the 2018 General Assembly session, legislation was approved in response to these recommendations, including a bill sponsored by Delegate Steve Landes, to amend state code to allow colleges and universities to offer undergraduate degree programs in education.

Peter Blake, the director of SCHEV, says teachers are in high demand but low supply, but this new approach will improve the production of qualified teachers.

Under these changes, UVA will be offering programs in early/primary education, elementary education, and special education-general curriculum.

George Mason University, James Madison University, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, and William and Mary will also be offering a variety of programs such as career and technical education, special education-early childhood, middle education and more.

The release says when these new programs reach full enrollment, the combined annual teacher production will go up by more than 400 near teachers over current levels.

"Several of these new programs will address critical shortage areas, including elementary education, middle education, special education, mathematics and science," said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. "These additional teachers will make a big difference as the Virginia Department of Education works in partnership with local school divisions to ensure that every child in the Commonwealth is taught by a fully-qualified teacher."

Several private colleges have also gotten approval for education degree programs, including Ferrum College, Liberty University, Marymount University, Randolph College, Roanoke College, Shenandoah University, Sweet Briar College and the University of Lynchburg.

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