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California and Indiana Report Increased Interest in Teaching

There's a bit of good news for California and Indiana school administrators struggling to find educators amid widespread reports of teacher shortages in their states: New reports suggest that there may well be an end in sight.

Indiana has reported an increase in new teacher licenses issued, and in California, the state's teacher preparation programs report their first enrollment increases in 13 years.

According to a new report from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, enrollment increased from 18,984 during the 2013-2014 school year to 20,881 in the 2014-2015 school year (the most recent year on record), amounting to a 10 percent increase. But to put that enrollment bump into perspective, during the 2001-2002 school year, nearly 78,000 students were enrolled in teacher education programs, an all-time high for the state, reports EdSource, an education news website focused on the Golden State. That means that enrollment is still down 73 percent from all-time highs. Joan Bissell, California State University's director of teacher education, told EdSource that she attributed the growth to better recruiting techniques and increases in student aid.

The report also found that the minority-majority state's teaching candidates were becoming more diverse. Slightly less than half of the candidates reported that they were white; that's down from 57 percent during the 2008-2009 school year. Last year, 30 percent of teaching candidates identified as Hispanic or Latino, 7 percent were Asian, and 6 percent reported that they were black. The vast majority—72 percent—of teaching candidates continue to be women.

For its part, the Indiana Department of Education reported on Monday that the number of newly credentialed teachers in that state had increased by 18 percent rising from 3,843 licenses issued in the 2014-2015 school year to 4,552 handed out last school yearBut as in California, the state is still seeing much lower interest among students in teaching than it has historically. Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz heralded the news, but acknowledged that the state still had work to do to make the profession more attractive.

"Today's numbers show that the first steps of healing have begun, but we have more work to do," she said. "I look forward to working with the legislature and the next governor to ensure that every Hoosier student has access to an excellent educator by systematically addressing the needs of the teaching profession." 

Most of the recommendations that came out of a 49-member panel assembled by the superintendent to tackle teacher shortages failed to gain traction during this year's legislative sessions, reports education news site Chalkbeat Indiana. Starting this week, the state's most promising seniors can now apply for 200 $7,500 annual scholarships, so $30,000 over four years, if they promise to teach in the state for five years after graduating from college. 


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