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ASU colleges form partnership to address teacher shortage

March 19, 2015

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are joining forces to produce more teachers by encouraging students graduating with liberal arts degrees to consider becoming a teacher.

Students have the unique opportunity to earn a high-quality Arizona State University degree in their major of choice and a certificate from one of the nation’s most highly regarded teacher preparation programs.

The partnership will focus around the Secondary Education Certificate offered by Teachers College, which allows ASU undergraduates to add teaching courses needed for certification to their bachelor’s degree. The certificate is a 30 credit program available to all ASU undergraduates who have majors outside of education with an interest in becoming teachers.

Typical content areas for secondary education certification include biology, business, chemistry, Chinese, earth and space science, economics, English, French, geography, German, history, mathematics, physics, political science and Spanish.

Because students from the liberal arts college tend to show a high degree of interest in teaching careers, the two colleges saw an opportunity to provide additional support to those students. Teachers College is creating a new academic adviser position that will be based in the CLAS advising office in order to assist students with any questions they have about the secondary education certificate and advise them as they work to fulfill the certificate requirements.

“We’re thrilled to have a dedicated adviser from Teachers College available to educate our students about this important career option,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The collaboration between the colleges is part of the ASU Charter and Goals to enhance the university’s local impact and social embeddedness by increasing the number of qualified K-12 teachers by 25 percent.

“The most important product ASU creates is a teacher,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “When our students become certified teachers, they take with them the energy and passion that comes with being a Sun Devil into their classrooms, and help their own students take critical steps toward attaining their dreams. That translates to more opportunities for ASU alumni to effect positive change in our local communities and schools, and beyond.”

A series of lunches will be hosted during March to bring together members of both colleges and train current academic advisers about the secondary education certificate program.

“People tend to assume that you have to be majoring in education to pursue a career in teaching,” said Jenna Kahl, director of student recruitment for Teachers College, “which is why it’s essential to share the details of this alternative pathway with advisers at other colleges so they have the information they need to help students make the best decisions for their unique situations.”

The secondary education certificate was established in 2013 as part of an effort to prepare more ASU graduates to become teachers – especially in high-need areas like STEM subjects – without having to change their major to education. With students sometimes facing challenges in securing employment after graduation in the area of their major, adding teaching as an option expands students’ job prospects and gives them invaluable skills as they fill a critical need in schools and make an impact in the lives of students.

With the teacher shortage becoming especially pronounced this year, the program is more important than ever.

“Teachers College has always been dedicated to developing high-quality teachers who influence children’s lives in so many positive ways,” said Mari Koerner, dean of the Teachers College. “This new advising position within the liberal arts college is one of many ways we’ve become creative in order to reach more students who have the passion and dedication to guide our youth.”