Utah public schools facing a teacher shortage can now hire people without teaching licenses or experience after the State Board of Education voted unanimously to allow the new policy to take effect Friday.
Utah has long had a program that let people with bachelor’s degrees get teaching jobs before they were licensed, but the new policy change lets them get a license right away and drops a requirement that unlicensed teachers take college teacher-training courses.
No school is required to hire unlicensed educators under the new policy, but the change could also help combat a teacher shortage that’s left half of Utah schools with open teaching positions on the first day of school, according to district surveys. Utah colleges are turning out fewer teachers even as the number of students grows.
The state’s student body now stands at more than 640,000 students, up 10 percent over the last five years. Enrollment in collegiate teacher-training programs has dropped by about a third over the last decade.