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Addressing the Teacher Shortage with ESSER III Funds

By ASBO International posted 10-20-2022 11:22


Part Three of a Series on How Districts Are Using American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds to Make a Difference for Students 

In their Back-to-School Checklist outlining how school districts and states can apply ESSER III funds and encouraging parents to engage in the decision-making process for their students, the United States Department of Education (USED) mentioned Tennessee, Iowa, and Puerto Rico’s departments of education for their efforts to address a teacher shortage that has intensified with the effects of COVID-19. 

USED acknowledged the Tennessee Department of Education for developing the first registered teaching apprenticeship program in the country and using $20 million in ARP funds to expand the program. 

Beginning with one school district and a university teacher residency program in 2019, the department has facilitated partnerships between educator preparation providers (EPPs) and 63 school districts. 

Districts work with EPPs to identify talent gaps, review student performance data and other considerations to co-design quality programs that meet their specific needs. Job-embedded classroom training and mentorships help to familiarize teachers with the culture, priorities, and best practices of the district. Districts are responsible for paying candidates as educational assistants or teacher’s aids through multi-year residency structures. 

In an article spotlighting the state’s Grow Your Own initiative, ASBO International member Danny Weeks, director of schools for Dickson County Schools, says, “Dickson County Schools have enjoyed the partnerships with [colleges and universities] in working to reduce the impact of teacher shortages. The cohort model allows us to provide customized supports from our participants.” 

Participants following the teacher apprenticeship path include high school students in dual-enrollment programs, college students majoring in education, school staff paraprofessionals or assistants, and career changers or retirees. 

The Iowa Department of Education was recognized for spending more than $45 million in relief funds on a registered apprenticeship program to train 500 paraeducators and 500 new teachers, providing students and adult paraeducators with a pathway to careers in education and creating a pipeline of skilled educators. The department awarded funds in the form of grants to nineteen applicant districts for their programs. 

The Puerto Rico Department of Education is making use of ARP fund to raise salaries of educators by $1,000 per month, amounting to a 26 percent increase for teachers in the region.