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Indiana State Board of Education approves new licensure programs at PFW to address critical K–12 teacher shortage

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Public schools across the country are in dire need of qualified and competent K-12 educators. To address the years-long teacher shortage in Indiana exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Purdue University Fort Wayne is responding to the challenge with five new licensure programs.

With its most recent action Wednesday, the Indiana State Board of Education has now approved two Purdue Fort Wayne licensure programs in high-need areas – Speech-Language Pathology and Elementary STEM – along with three additional Transition to Teaching programs at the university. Prospective students can apply immediately and start as early as the spring 2022 semester.

In northeast Indiana, several districts currently have many teaching on emergency licenses. These teachers – as well as future educators – have an immediate need for alternative licensure pathways. As a result, leaders from Purdue Fort Wayne's newly-minted School of Education collaborated with area school systems to address the gap. Those efforts led to three Transition to Teaching programs: Special Education, to meet the immediate need for a SPED alternative licensure program, and Elementary and Secondary, programs created to meet the districts’ expressed need to license their emergency teachers.

“The Transition to Teaching programs at Purdue Fort Wayne address areas of critical need, particularly licensed special education teachers,” said Charles Cammack Jr., chief operations officer for Fort Wayne Community Schools. “We know people hear the calling to education at different times in their lives, and these programs will allow them to move from a non-education career into the classroom where they can make a difference in the lives of students on a daily basis."

The new Speech-Language Pathology licensure program at Purdue Fort Wayne, based out of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Science, meets one of the state’s highest-need licensure areas. The Elementary STEM licensure program, an entirely new and highly desired path, will make Purdue Fort Wayne the first university in Indiana to offer that specialist license.

“Our Transition to Teaching programs are specifically designed to help address the teacher shortage by offering a streamlined pathway for career changers who already hold a bachelor’s degree,” said Isabel Nunez, director of the School of Education and professor of educational studies at Purdue Fort Wayne. “While our goal is to respond to the K-12 teacher shortage, our main focus is to develop qualified, excellent teachers. Each of these new programs will help us accomplish those priorities.”

The Transition to Teaching program will require 24-credit hours of specific pedagogical content for the license in mild intervention. The Elementary program also requires 24-credit hours of coursework, while the Secondary program requires 18-credit hours.

Applicants to the Transition to Teaching program must have an undergraduate degree and a GPA of 3.0. Candidates without a qualifying GPA can seek admission via related work experience or through passage of the Praxis Content Exam in the subject area for which they are seeking an initial teaching license.

The programs should take a year to 18 months to complete. Upon successful completion of the program, students must pass the designated Praxis tests for Indiana to be licensed. Anyone ready to apply may visit pfw.edu/graduate-studies/apply.

Educators interested in learning more about the Transition to Teaching programs or the graduate studies programs at Purdue Fort Wayne may contact a team member at [email protected] or 260-481-6111. Additional information may also be requested at pfw.edu/grad-info.

Members of the media may contact Nunez at [email protected] or 260-481-6450 with interview requests and for additional background.