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Number of emergency-certified teachers keeps climbing amid Oklahoma-wide educator shortage

Kids in a classroom.
Martin Bureau
/
AFP/Getty Images

More than 2,500 teachers are teaching with an emergency certificate in the early days of school across Oklahoma.

That is according to a list of emergency teachers approved by Oklahoma’s State Board of Education during its August meeting last week.

The emergency certified educators are in hundreds of districts and vary in number with as many as 497 in Oklahoma City Public Schools and only one in almost 100 school districts.

The Oklahoman reports hundreds of teaching vacancies remain across the state as districts start up the new school year.

Last school year saw an annual record of 3,600 emergency certified teachers and It appears the state will blow past that during this school year. 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 2021 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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