Hess speaks with WPR for report on, ‘Why Are Fewer Wisconsin Students Studying To Become Teachers?’

Hess was recently named co-chair of a task force that’s designed to help identify how University of Wisconsin System institutions can better meet Wisconsin’s need for more teachers and school leaders. Hess is co-chairing this group with Deborah Kerr, president-elect of AASA, the national School Superintendents Association, and current superintendent of the Brown Deer School District.

Diana Hess

The UW System Task Force for Advancing Teachers and School Leaders in the State of Wisconsin was announced Jan. 25 in this news release. The task force will have eight members in all and is to produce a report and recommendations by May 1, 2019, for presentation to the UW System Board of Regents Education Committee in June.

The Feb. 5 report from WPR is headlined, “Why Are Fewer Wisconsin Students Studying To Become Teachers?”

“We know that nationally, enrollment in teacher education programs is down about 35 percent and in Wisconsin it is down more dramatically in some places,” Hess, who holds the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education, tells WPR.

“What we’re experiencing here is not dissimilar to what’s happening across the country,” Hess adds. “The shortages tend to be in five different subject areas: special education, bilingual education, math, science and technology.”

NPR explains that the ​”shortage has prompted changes, which went into effect in 2016, that allow teachers to teach subject matter they may not have credentials in and lets others who went through an alternative certification program instead of obtaining a traditional university teaching degree into classroom. There are about 2,000 such teachers in the state, Hess said.”

“That’s a fairly dramatic increase,” Hess ​tells WPR. “So I think what we need to be concerned about in Wisconsin is not just that we have existing shortages, but that we know that based on the enrollment in our teacher education programs and how that has declined, that we will have even worse shortages in the future.”

To learn more, check out the entire report on this WPR.org web page.

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