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Report reveals graduates of Oklahoma's teacher prep programs down more than 25 percent in last decade

Andre Hunter

Amid a teacher shortage, Oklahoma’s educator prep programs are graduating fewer students ready to go straight into classrooms.

The number of teacher college prep graduates fell by more than 25% over the last decade, per a report published by the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education.

There were 1,651 bachelor’s degrees conferred in educator prep programs in 2021 and 1,223 in 2021. Overall, interest in the education field has fallen at Oklahoma colleges as well, with the total number of students obtaining any sort of degree or certificate in education dropping 22% over the last decade.

Low pay and high stress are consistently cited as a reason for leaving. A 2018 survey — conducted before Oklahoma’s teacher walkout — cited those two factors as the top reasons teachers quit. The pandemic’s overall impact on the teacher workforce remains to be seen, though Oklahoma schools had to hire thousands of emergency certified teachers during the last school year.

The fall in interest comes as the number of Oklahomans graduating from college is on the rise. Over the same period, the number of people obtaining a bachelor’s degree from a public Oklahoma college or university grew by 13 percent.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Robby Korth grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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