UW-Platteville announces plans to address substitute teacher shortage

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville is implementing new programs in the School of Education to solve the problem.

January 28, 2022 |
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UW-Platteville Campus. Photo courtesy of UW-Platteville.

Not only are American schools facing a teacher shortage, but substitutes are also hard to come by. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville's School of Education is implementing new programs to solve this problem in rural schools. The following press release outlines these plans. Thank you to Rural Schools Collaborative Driftless Hub contact, Dr. Jen Collins, for sending us this update.

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Education announced a plan to help address the critical shortage of substitute teachers in the state by offering current UW-Platteville students an opportunity to have an associate degree conferred, while in the process of earning their bachelor’s degree, in order to meet the state’s substitute teacher eligibility requirements.

Wisconsin requires substitute teachers to hold an associate degree or higher and complete an approved substitute training program. The School of Education will be offering the substitute training program on two dates this spring, as well as covering the cost for students to attend these trainings. Eligible students will have their associate degree conferred in May, making them ready to enter the classroom in the fall. The opportunity is open to qualifying education majors this spring, with plans to expand to all majors in the fall.

“We know our K-12 partners have been struggling to find substitute teachers for some time now,” said Dr. Jen Collins, director of UW-Platteville’s School of Education. “We can not only help them find someone to cover a classroom in a teacher’s absence, we can actually send them a future teacher, someone with an aligned skillset and a passion for this work. Our students get the benefit of applying what they are learning in their coursework. It’s a win-win. We owe our local K-12 partners a great deal; they are the application piece to our campus classroom theory. We could not develop and train our future educators without their assistance, so any opportunity we get to support our rural schools and communities, we jump at.”

The School of Education is partnering with CESA 3 on this initiative. The education agency is providing the substitute teacher training.

“The shortage of substitute teachers in Southwest Wisconsin predates the pandemic,” said Brad Van Epps, educator development and support coordinator at CESA 3. “School districts in our area have been begging for information about substitute contacts since I’ve been at CESA 3.”

Van Epps said that when the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction changed the requirement from a bachelor’s degree to an associate degree in 2018, there was an increase in the number of people seeking training to be substitute teachers but not enough to keep up with demand.

“Somehow, that only seemed to help a little,” said Van Epps. “Currently, almost every school asks teachers to give up preparation time to cover classes for missing co-workers. There just aren’t enough substitute teachers. That’s why I’m so excited that CESA 3 will be partnering with the UW-Platteville School of Education to provide the required training for UW-Platteville students to get sub licenses. The education students will get much-needed experience – and welcome compensation – and the 31 school districts in CESA 3 will bolster their substitute teacher ranks. Everyone wins.”
For more information about UW-Platteville’s School of Education, visit
www.uwplatt.edu/department/school-education
.

Written by: Alison Parkins, associate director of Public Relations, UW-Platteville, parkinsal@uwplatt.edu

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