At least 79 teachers have applied for emergency provisional certifications this school year, up from 22 at this time last year.
State Department of Education’s Certification and Professional Standards Director Bethani Studebaker says it’s too early to identify the causes behind the uptick, but that a statewide teacher shortage in hard-to-fill positions and improved communication with districts could be factors.
Most of Idaho’s 22,000 teachers are certified to teach in their content areas.
Emergency provisionals allow teachers to temporarily teach subjects even if they don’t meet the qualifications.
The State Board of Education grants the one-year endorsements to districts that prove they’ve made best efforts to fill their openings, but haven’t been successful. Teachers can obtain two emergency provisionals in their K-12 career.
Receiving nearly 80 applications by September is unusual.
The SDE typically sees fewer applications at the beginning of the year, with an influx in November and December, said Studebaker. Many late applications come from districts where funding is at risk, since the state can withhold money when teachers are teaching subjects they are not certified to teach.
The SDE put intentional effort toward educating districts about authorization options to avoid funding issues, which could be one reason for the increase, said Studebaker.
But the early numbers could also indicate a statewide teacher shortage, she said.
“It’s no secret that there’s a national teacher shortage, and Idaho’s not immune to that.”
State Board member Linda Clark said in June that Idaho was facing an unprecedented hiring “crisis,” with at least 700 teaching vacancies. Many openings called for math and science teachers, something Studebaker says the emergency applications fall “in line” with.
The extent to which increased knowledge or a statewide teacher shortage factor into emergency provisional numbers won’t become clear until after December, said Studebaker.
“It’s definitely something to keep an eye on.”