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Arizona non-profit aims to solve teacher shortage with online course

(Flickr photo/ U.S. Department of Education)

PHOENIX — Last fall, school started in Arizona with approximately 1,000 vacant slots for teachers.

Now that the school year is coming to a close, keeping the number of teachers up to an adequate level is still a challenge.

Charles Tack with the Arizona Department of Education said teachers for certain subjects are harder to find than others.

“There are several subject areas that are particularly hard hit, things like mathematics, things like special education, things like the sciences,” said Tack.

Filling teacher vacancies in Arizona is a challenge because salaries here are notoriously low and good teachers either leave for teaching jobs in other states or leave the profession altogether.

Tack said the exact number of vacancies is not clear, but he said there’s definitely room to add more teachers to the rolls.

In order to get more people into the Arizona educational system, a non-profit organization is offering a completely online course to become a teacher.

The Arizona Center for Teacher Preparation is offering a 45-hour online course that is open to anyone with a bachelor’s degree who wants to become a teacher.

“Anything that pulls qualified, caring people into the classroom, I think, is one step toward helping solve the teacher shortage,” said Lisa Howell of the AZCTP.

Participants have one year to complete the teacher preparation course and then must pass the Arizona certification tests.  These are the same tests that those going through a traditional teacher education program must pass.

“We have very strict requirements on us to make sure than anyone who graduates or leaves our program to teach in a classroom has proven their content knowledge and their competence to be a teacher,” said Howell.

The Arizona Center for Teacher Preparation course costs just over $2,500.

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