New certification programs aim to address teacher shortages in Pennsylvania

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — In an effort to help address teacher shortages in Pennsylvania in critical areas such as special education, English, social studies and math, Penn State Harrisburg’s Teacher Education Program is offering post-baccalaureate certification for individuals who hold a baccalaureate degree and want to become certified to teach in the commonwealth. The programs are approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).

“PDE recognizes that for candidates who already possess a bachelor’s degree and want to enter the field of teaching, post-baccalaureate programs offer the possibility of building on that degree and other experiences while acquiring the additional skills, knowledge and dispositions needed to become a successful teacher,” said Jane Wilburne, professor of mathematics education and chair of the teacher education program. “There is also a need for enthusiastic, compassionate and motivating teachers in many high-need schools.”

The new Pre-K through 12 special education certification program may be of particular interest to those currently teaching with emergency certificates. It is unique because it is a stand-alone certification and does not require a general education teaching certificate.

“With the special education program, one of our primary goals is to attract more underrepresented minorities into the field of education to work with PK through 12 students in Pennsylvania,” said Linda O. Rhen, associate teaching professor of special education. “Another goal is to prepare highly qualified individuals to meet the needs for certification in the specific teacher shortage area of special education.”

The certification programs for grades seven through 12 in English, math, and social studies, as well as English as a second language, will continue to be offered for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree. The new certification programs in grades Pre-K through four and grades four through eight in English, social studies and math, and Pre-K through 12 special education, will be offered beginning fall 2021 and are intended for those with an undergraduate degree who want to pursue Pennsylvania teaching certification in these areas.

The post-baccalaureate certification programs offer great flexibility, according to Wilburne.

“Our programs are designed to take into account candidates' life experiences and prior coursework in their preparation,” Wilburne said. “The programs can also include courses that would satisfy the requirements for the master of education in teaching and curriculum. Candidates also have the option to complete their student teaching as a residency candidate in a high-need partner school district in their final semesters.”

For more information on the programs, contact Katie Martin [email protected].