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Nevada looks to alternative programs for teachers to earn license

New programs that provide an alternative route to a teaching license by blending online coursework with classroom training could help Nevada address its teacher shortage.

The state Department of Education’s Commission on Professional Standards in Education approved three more alternative programs in October, bringing the total to 19 programs created since 2014.

Alternative programs offer a different route to a teaching license than the typical college classroom setting. Participants can hold a conditional teaching license, completing the necessary online coursework while still spending time with students.

Nevada has faced a problematic teacher shortage — the most recent state Department of Education numbers indicate over 360 vacancies in Clark County and more than 500 statewide.

Teachers of Tomorrow, which expanded to Nevada, Utah and Florida this year, offers online courses to those applicants who already have a bachelor’s degree and 2.5 grade-point average.

Chief Development Officer Dave Saba said the program is designed for career-changers; the average age of participants is 32.

“We’ve created a program where they can do the bulk of it online,” Saba said. “Where they can work at their own pace, work at their own time to get through the initial classroom readiness training.”

The program, which began in Texas, has certified over 42,000 teachers since its inception 11 years ago. In Nevada, the program aims to place 500 teachers in classrooms by next fall.

Forty-six percent of the program’s teachers are also nonwhite, according to Saba.

Dena Durish, state deputy superintendent for educator effectiveness and family engagement, said an accountability system will monitor the quality of these alternative programs.

“I think the more opportunities that we have to increase our pipeline of teacher candidates, the better,” she said. “I also think that that allows Clark County the opportunity to have a broader selection of candidates to choose from.”

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at 702-383-4630 or apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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