In a 2000-2001 study of K-12 educators, only 4.26% of the state’s 21,839 teachers taught at least one course for which they were not fully certified. Only 1.28% of educators taught one or more courses for which they did not have content expertise.
“West Virginia has stringent requirements for teaching professionals,” said Kim Hough, assistant director of the professional preparation office. State Board of Education policy requires that a teacher who teaches even one class for which he or she is not fully certified must hold a first class permit or out-of-field authorization. “The data collected clearly reflects that the vast majority of educators in this state are working in subject areas in which they have content expertise and are fully certified,” said Hough.
Last year, 652 teachers taught on permit and 279 taught with out-of-field authorizations. The total number of teachers employed in the endorsement areas was 21, 839.
“Some of the most revealing data showed that the lowest percentage of educators teaching on permit was in elementary education, “ noted Hough. “Less than one percent of teachers in elementary education are on permit, indicating that nearly all of the elementary children in the state are being instructed by fully certified teachers. At the secondary level, over 99% of English, math, and social studies teachers and over 98% of science teachers are fully certified.”
The endorsement areas with the greatest percentage of educators working on permit or out-of-field authorizations were Japanese, special education, reading specialist, and Spanish.
Twenty-six percent of the 15 Japanese teachers were working on permits or out-of-field authorizations, followed by 18% of special educators, 11.4% of reading specialists, and 10.57% of Spanish teachers.
A teacher can receive a first class permit to teach outside his or her subject area provided he or she has a bachelor’s degree, a 2.5 overall grade point average, 25% of the approved program course work, employment in the endorsement area, recommendation of a county superintendent verifying the applicant is the most qualified, and a commitment to complete the required course work for full certification. Teachers must take six semester hours each year to remain in the assignment and complete the endorsement in five years or less.
An out-of-field authorization requires that a teacher have a full certification in another endorsement area instead of 25% of the content course work. Out-of-field authorizations also require teachers to take six semester hours per year to remain in the assignment.