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In Recognition Of Statewide Teacher Shortage, U.Va. Creates "Alternative Route" To Becoming A Teacher

August 15, 2000 -- To help meet the critical need for public school teachers and administrators, the University of Virginia has created new options for adults.

Officials in U.Va.’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS), in cooperation with U.Va.’s Curry School of Education and the Virginia School-University Partnership, have developed a series of courses that can lead to teacher licensure.

Designed for adults with undergraduate degrees who are interested in becoming teachers, the series provides the 15 credits of course work individuals need to obtain alternative licensure from the Virginia Department of Education. Courses are scheduled in the evenings and weekends to accommodate schedules of those who work.

The course series meets the state’s professional studies requirements for alternative licensure in secondary grades 6-12 endorsements, adult education and some specific endorsements including art, music and foreign languages. Applicants must also have completed an undergraduate major that meets content requirements for the proposed licensure area.

An unusual component of the course sequence, called "Alternate Route to Teacher Licensure," is that superintendents in the Virginia School-University Partnership have agreed to give each person who completes the series at least one employment-screening interview. The partnership is a consortium of 20 Central Virginia school divisions and U.Va.

As they complete the sequence, course registrants will submit to J. Andrew Stamp, executive director of the partnership, a résumé and cover letter indicating which grades and subjects they hope to teach. Stamp will forward letters to all consortium superintendents, who will share them with their personnel officers.

"The ‘Alternative Route to Licensure’ addresses the urgent need of finding and certifying good teacher candidates for vacancies in our school divisions," Stamp said.

"This marks the first time a course sequence leading to teacher licensure has been offered at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies regional centers throughout the state," said Nancy Iverson, director of the SCPS Center for State and National Programs for Educators in Lynchburg.

Adults can enroll in courses through SCPS centers in Charlottesville, Abingdon, Lynchburg, Roanoke, Richmond, Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia. Courses are also offered through the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, a joint enterprise uniting U.Va., U.Va.’s College at Wise, Radford University, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University and Emory and Henry College.

To facilitate the process of gaining alternative licensure, adults do not have to apply formally to U.Va. Instead, they simply enroll in the U.Va. courses. After completing the required credit hours and passing the Virginia licensure exams, they can apply for alternative licensure from the state.

"We are finding that the alternative-licensure course sequence appeals to those in private schools as well as preschool teachers, school volunteers and substitute teachers," said Roseann Parks, director of the SCPS center in Charlottesville.

U.Va. also offers a non-degree licensure course sequence in Northern Virginia and Roanoke that leads to endorsement in special education. Designed for working adults who want a career change, the courses focus on how to teach individuals with learning disabilities. Students need to complete between 24-30 hours of course credit to gain licensure and endorsement in learning disabilities from the state.

More information on the course sequences can be obtained by calling the toll-free number (800) 871-8265 or accessing the Web site, http://uvace.virginia.edu/index.htm.

Undergraduate Degree Program for Adults

Adults who have not yet completed college degrees but who want to become teachers can pursue an option through U.Va.’s Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) program. While taking courses to complete a bachelor’s degree, they can choose a concentration in an area related to a desired teaching endorsement.

Designed for adults -- considered those who are at least six years past high school graduation -- who have earned at least 60 college credits that are transferable to U.Va., the BIS program allows students the option of developing individualized plans of study. Working with their advisor, students develop a plan of study that includes core courses across the disciplines and five-to-six courses in education that satisfy the Virginia Department of Education alternative-licensure guidelines.

BIS representatives have advised Albemarle County and Charlottesville school officials of the adult-degree program. "We hope it can help staff members meet their professional goals. The program is ideal for teachers aides who want to become teachers," said BIS Director Donna Plasket.

Graduates of the program will earn a BIS degree and can gain licensure and endorsement. Information on the program can be obtained by contacting the BIS office at (804) 982-5274, e-mailing bis-degree@virginia.edu or accessing the web site, http://uvace.virginia.edu/bisdegree/.

Advanced Degree Program for Adults

Since Virginia school districts are also experiencing a shortage of qualified candidates for top leadership positions, such as superintendents and principals, the Curry School and SCPS have started off-Grounds programs for working adults to earn doctorates in education. Programs are offered through the SCPS regional centers to groups of adults wishing to secure advanced degrees. To date approximately 50 adults are pursuing doctorates through course work in Lynchburg and Hanover County.

Information about Curry programs can be obtained by calling the school’s admissions office at (804) 924-3334 or accessing the web site, http://curry.edschool.virginia.edu/curry/admin/admissions.html.

Contact: Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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