The New Year could bring an expansion of a program that allows professionals with graduate degrees in a number of other fields to transfer their real work experience to a New York State teaching certificate.
Right now, the transitional G teaching certification is available only to those in the STEM fields, but the State Education Department wants to open it up to professionals in any other discipline where there is a teaching certificate title.
That could include English, foreign languages, social studies, and music.
The proposed expansion is an apparent response to a statewide teacher shortage. Sherry Johnson, executive director of the Monroe County School Boards Association, says enrollment in college teaching programs is also down.
"We're hearing from them as well that they're just not getting the numbers they used to get, so I think this is the right move by State Ed."
The transitional G teaching certificate is issued to individuals who are changing careers and others who hold a graduate or higher degree and have at last two years of postsecondary teaching experience and a job commitment from a school district.
In addition to that, Johnson says, there is a certain quality that makes someone a good fit for the classroom.
"We have some very, very intelligent people out there, but you have to be able to take that knowledge that you have and put it in a way that's engaging for kids. If you have that passion, then you would make a great teacher."
The State is also proposing a quicker path to a teaching certificate for individuals who hold a pre-professional teaching assistant certificate.
Currently, once the requirements for the initial certificate are met, the individual must complete a student teaching experience as part of a registered teacher preparation program. The proposed amendment would allow those with a pre-professional teaching assistant certificate to get their student teaching experience simultaneously while they are working under the pre-professional title.
The State is accepting public comments on both proposals through January 15. A vote is expected from the New York State Board of Regents at its February meeting.