CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ The West Virginia Department of Education’s Teacher Shortage Task Force Committee has developed a plan to address a growing teacher shortage across the state.
Nearly 6,000 of West Virginia’s 24,000 educators will be eligible for retirement next year, a trend that will only accelerate in coming years. Many counties already are struggling to find math, science, special education and foreign language teachers.
Increasing teacher salaries topped the list of recommendation presented to the West Virginia Board of Education during its December meeting.
Other recommendations include launching a coordinated recruitment and retention campaign to attract and retain a qualified teacher work force; expanding certification of K-6 and K-8 elementary teachers; allow all currently certified teachers to use the Praxis II exam to expand certification to other subject areas; allow retirees to work as substitutes without losing their retirement benefits; provide financial incentives, such as loan forgiveness and signing bonuses, to teachers in critical shortage areas; improve working conditions; develop streamlined alternative routes to certification; and develop content institutes to prepare currently certified teachers in subject areas, such as math and science.
"West Virginia has become an educational leader with its 21st Century Skills initiative and our teachers are an important part,” state Superintendent Steve Paine said. “Our teachers are hard-working individuals who care about their students. Retaining quality teachers is key to West Virginia transforming its classrooms into 21st century learning havens.”
West Virginia has a highly experienced teaching corps. The average teacher in West Virginia is about 46 years old with about 18 years of classroom experience. A majority of them hold a master’s degree or higher. The average West Virginia teacher currently earns about $40,531, about $10,000 below the national average of $50,964.
The task force includes members of the state Legislature, West Virginia Board of Education, teachers’ associations, higher education institution representatives, superintendents, personnel directors, principals, pre-service and in-service teachers and state Department of Education staff.
For more information, contact the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.