Central Valley school districts get help with teacher shortage from students getting credential

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A massive teacher shortage has local school districts turning to mentorship, residency, and internship programs to get much-needed teachers in the classroom.

"We have a robust partnership with Fresno State with our teacher residency program that we're preparing. Now K through 12 teachers is our hardest to fill positions which are STEM science and math," said Traci Taylor, Fresno Unified.

The programs many districts are turning to put a full-time teachers solo in the classroom who do not yet have their teaching credential. The understanding is that they'll get it usually within an 18-month timeframe. The teachers have their bachelor's degree, but many are just starting classes to become a teacher.

"It is not optimal. However there are some districts that are providing many additional supports to guide those people who are not fully credentialed," said Lisa Bennett, Fresno State.

Fresno Unified School District has more than 4,000 teachers and of them, 146 are in residency programs or don't have their credentials yet. Of Central Unified's more than 800 teachers roughly 16 are still working towards receiving their credential. Visalia Unified has 71 teachers without credentials. District officials boast a strong mentor program for the students with a $2,000 stipend to go towards their education. Clovis Unified has the smallest percentage of teachers without credentials, with Madera Unified close behind.

"I think just really trying to, as a community, figure out what we can do to recruit more students into the field is really the key," said Emy Lopez-Phillips.

As for what's the real difference between having a credential and not having one, Bennett said it is course work.

"It's the course work and methods in pedagogy which is how people teach and how students learn."

Officials said a new teacher's enthusiasm is beneficial to students even if they lack some of the knowledge of child development. The key ingredient to their success in the classroom is giving them the mentorship and help they need.

"We want to make sure we surround them with support to be successful and then Fresno Unified provides them with CSET prep which are the exams they need to be successful in order to get their credential," said Taylor.

If you'd like to find out about your teacher's credentials you can click here and then click "Search for an Educator."
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