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As new school year starts, a record number of emergency certified teachers will lead classrooms

Empty classroom with no students
iStockphoto

More than 1,400 teachers will be teaching with an emergency certificate in the first days of school across Oklahoma.

That represents a record, and is according to a list of emergency teachers approved by Oklahoma’s State Board of Education in its July meeting.

The emergency certified educators will work in 156 districts and will number as many as 374 in Oklahoma City Public Schools and only one in more than 50 school districts.

The Oklahoman reports hundreds of teaching vacancies remain across the state as districts get ready for the new school year.

Last school year saw an annual record of 3,600 emergency certified teachers. Oklahoma has roughly 45,000 teachers overall.

The state has long struggled with a teacher shortage. The number of emergency certifications was fewer than 100 in 2010 but has consistently numbered in the thousands for the last several years.

And there’s generally less interest in being a teacher in Oklahoma,

There were 1,651 bachelor’s degrees conferred in educator prep programs in 2012 and 1,223 in 2021, according to the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education. 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.

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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