Quality and diversity in the educator workforce matters! Washington has a unique opportunity to make an increased investment in the quality and diversity of its educator workforce through supporting diverse pathways into a career in education and serve as a national leader in creating and promoting multiple opportunities for becoming an educator. Through careful investment and policy reform in educator recruitment and mentoring at both the secondary and postsecondary level, we can collectively address shortages while at the same time increase teacher diversity in the profession.
Career connected educator pathways
Alternative Routes, Retooling, the Para Pipeline scholarship, the Recruiting Washington Teachers & Bilingual Educator Initiative (high school teacher academy) programs together create an inclusive pathway to becoming an educator.
Alternative Routes to educator certification are non-traditional pathways focused on job embedded learning to becoming a certificated educator in Washington. These programs support diverse candidates, emphasize a grow your own model, address geographic and subject matter shortages, and can provide credit for prior learning. These programs provide incentives towards diversifying the delivery of educator training and creating more flexible alternatives.
Alternative Routes allow a potential educator to build a set of stackable training and experience that will enable them to succeed in a career in education. Washington state must make increased investment in these programs to meet demand and address shortages. By investing more in Alternative Routes & career connected learning, the state has the opportunity to encourage targeted recruitment of needed teachers and create a diverse educator workforce.
Previous funding levels for the Alternative Route Block Grant, the Educator Retooling Scholarship Program, the Pipeline for paraeducators, the Recruiting Washington Teachers & the Bilingual Educator Initiative did not meet fully the demand for these programs. Our board is requesting that the Legislature allocate an additional $8.47 million biennially for these programs to create more opportunities for future educators.
Eliminating testing barriers
Board staff recently hosted a Testing Barriers workgroup that conducted a thorough review of testing requirements regarding the barriers that testing creates for candidates, particularly bilingual and candidates of color, and develop recommendations for consideration by the PESB Board and the legislature
Recent data regarding teacher preparation program entry assessments indicate that the WEST-B (Washington Educator Skills Test – Basic) is proving an unnecessary barrier to entry into teacher preparation programs for applicants of color and bilingual applicants.
Potential educators must achieve a specific score on the basic skills test to enter a preparation program or achieve a specific score on an alternative. Our board is asking for a legislative change to remove the requirement of meeting a specific score in the WEST-B exam or alternative. This will allow other, more equitable, ways of assessing basic skills to be utilized by the institution to which the candidate is applying. For more information, read Testing Barriers in Washington State Report.
Statewide paraeducator training
All paraeducators, both new hires and currently employed, must now complete a four day (28 hours) Fundamental Course of Study on the paraeducator standards of practice during the 2019-20 school year. Once the Fundamental Course of Study training is met, paraeducators are then required to complete an additional ten days (70 hours) of professional development.
In the first four years of employment as a paraeducator (as outlined in HB 1115) a paraeducator will complete 14 days (98 hours) of training to meet the requirements of the paraeducator certificate program.
In order to meet the letter and intent of the law, and ensure adequate training and supports for paraeducators, the Legislature must invest $25.1 million in School Year (SY) 19-20 and $26.7 million in SY 20-21. This investment will provide high-quality paraeducator support in every classroom to meet the needs of our most vulnerable children.