LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education presented legislators with a proposal to approve an emergency rule change related to teacher licensures. The group pulled the request after answering questions and getting feedback from senators and representatives.
Dr. Ivy Pfeffer is the Dept. of Education’s Deputy Commissioner. She said the change would have aided the state with a teacher shortage by allowing people enrolled in alternative educator preparation programs to apply for a provisional teaching license without needing to pass a state-mandated assessment. Pfeffer told legislators Thursday the testing requirements turned some would-be teachers away.
“We know that we have had increases of turnover this past year, especially with younger teachers,” Pfeffer said.
Secretary of Education Johnny Key said the proposal would have put more teachers in classrooms.
“It would’ve been at least 113 Arkansans or so that would’ve had a credential,” Key said.
Legislators expresses concern, noting the Dept. of Education did not provide in-depth statistics about the perceived shortage. They said these numbers may reveal the underlying causes of certain districts having trouble filling open positions.
“We may have this teacher shortage, but how is it created?” said State Sen. Missy Irvin (R). “We kind of are just throwing out this solution and this solution and this solution without it being fully analyzed or understood.”
Irvin suggested many districts are promoting classroom teachers to higher-paying administrative roles. This is having an impact on the ability to hire teachers.
“You’re expanding that administrative level at these schools,” Irvin said. “What’s suffering is the teacher level at the schools.”
Other legislators said they did not want underqualified people teaching Arkansas kids. Key said all were valid concerns, but the districts’ problems still remain.
“We’ll take the feedback we got today, go back and rework it, and see what our next steps need to be,” Key said.