Aspiring To Educate
The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) will spearhead a new pilot program, Aspiring to Educate, that aims to cultivate and diversify the city's educator pool. The pilot – which is the first of its kind in the nation – is a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), SDP, the Community College of Philadelphia, and Cheyney, West Chester, Temple, Drexel, Arcadia and Cabrini universities, and local education and youth organizations.
Since 2013, the number of people seeking teaching certification has shrunk by more than 65 percent. In addition, while Pennsylvania has more than 120,000 teachers, 96% are white, making the state's educator workforce the least diverse in the country.
In an effort to address both the diminishing interest in the teaching profession and diversity in the educator workforce, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is piloting the Aspiring to Educate program in key regions of the state.
Aspiring to Educate is structured to benefit individuals at various stages in their education and life. The three tiers of the program provide multiple pathways for participants and provides local educational agencies (LEAs) with a constant stream of teachers highly prepared to fill gaps in different high-need areas. The eligibility and program requirements for each of the three segments are:
Youth Pathway for Aspiring Educators
Under the pilot's youth pathway, students would begin Aspiring to Educate during their junior year of high school with a path into a partnering institute of higher education (IHE) that is prepared to offer them the support they need to effectively complete the program. Under this model, students would enroll in a series of dual enrollment courses with upwards of 30 credits available, putting them ahead once they are officially admitted to an IHE.
Additionally, students will be mentored through a partnership with The Center for Black Educator Development and supported by The Philadelphia Youth Network. These partnerships are geared at retention and provide students with the support they need to thrive once enrolled at an IHE. Early recruitment is an essential part of Aspiring to Educate, and it provides LEAs the promise of highly qualified teachers who are always in the pipeline.
Adult Pathway for Aspiring Educators
Under the adult pathway, students who meet satisfactory academic requirements and have at least 30 credit hours that count toward a teacher certification program can enroll and will be given hiring priority and financial support (contingent upon multiple sources of funding) throughout the duration of the program.
Post Baccalaureate and Continued Development for Aspiring Educators
Aspiring to Educate also considers non-traditional candidates who may have already earned a bachelor's degree and are interested in becoming teachers. These post baccalaureate candidates can enter the program once they meet the satisfactory program requirements and are given the same benefits of other adult candidates.
The goal of the Aspiring to Educate program is to address both the shortage of teachers in Pennsylvania and the lack of diversity in the educator pipeline.
It is also the intent of the program to equip those teachers in the pipeline, and current in-service teachers, with the knowledge, tools, and supports needed to be culturally responsive educators. With the support of private, federal, state, and institutional resources, it is also the goal of the program to alleviate the financial burden of participants enrolled in the program.
Ultimately, Aspiring to Educate will work with school districts in Pennsylvania to ensure participants are hired upon the completion of the program.