State sets requirements for STEM instructors

Currently, at least 20 Ohio public schools are seeking high school math and science teachers (see here). When the first STEM schools open next year, administrators should have an easier time filling such positions, thanks to licensure exceptions included in the biennial budget bill. Hiring the right teachers is critical at all schools, and the STEM program's success hinges of the quality of the people in the classrooms.

H.B. 119 requires the State Board of Education to issue a two-year provisional educator license to teach science, technology, engineering, or math courses in grades six through 12 in a STEM school. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in a field related to the subject to be taught and pass a subject-area examination to be prescribed by the board, and then participate in an on-the-job apprenticeship. By contrast, a candidate with similar credentials wishing to teach the same course in a non-STEM school would need to obtain an Alternative Educator License by passing the subject-area examination and taking coursework in teaching methods and pedagogy.

The budget bill also requires the board to issue a 40-hour teaching permit to STEM school teachers who are not otherwise licensed and who teach fewer than 40 hours per week of science, technology, engineering, or math courses in a STEM school. Non-STEM schools can employ such teachers for only 12 hours per week.

The board's capacity committee this week nodded approval of the language for the STEM provisional license rule. The group also approved the 40-hour permit rule language after clarifying that there is no limit as to how many permit teachers one school could employ and that teachers working under the permit will not be considered highly qualified.

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