Solving California's Teacher Shortage

  • July 31, 2019

Online teaching credential programs may be the key to solving the state's teacher shortage and Cal State East Bay recently launched the California State University System’s first one.

“Many people today want to teach, and they could be great teachers, but they just can’t get access to a good teaching program,” said James Mitchell, a teacher education professor. “Now that we have the technology to work with students remotely, we can reach candidates who would otherwise not be able to attend this kind of program.”

Mitchell is referring to Cal State East Bay’s new Online Single Subject Teaching Credential Program, a yearlong online program dedicated to providing the skills needed to effectively teach adolescents. The fully online program offers a credential for those who want to teach grades six through 12.

“This is the program that will meet the needs of today’s learners,” said Mitchell, who is also the program’s director. “We want to train Bay Area teachers from the communities they’re going to serve, as well as those from outside our territories.”

According to the California Teachers Association, there is currently a strong need for middle and high school teachers in the Bay Area and across the state. California will need an additional 100,000 teachers over the next decade, and Mitchell says this program will contribute to reducing that staggering number.

“This kind of program needs to happen now because in five years we’re going to need teachers more than ever,” he said.

Currently, there are 42 students in the program’s first cohort. Half of them are from Alameda and Contra Costa counties and the rest are from outside the Bay Area. Students outside of California can also earn this credential by completing the California requirements and then reciprocating it in 43 other states.

Because this program is completely online, students are able to complete the coursework at their own pace and classes are set up to be asynchronous so students can individually log on at any time of the day. Along with the assigned coursework, teachers can also easily upload videos related to the pertaining topic and instantly upload them when needed. Students are also able to join online class discussions and send direct messages to their professors.

“Teaching online has really evolved,” Mitchell said. “This is something that really wasn’t available five years ago at such an easy user-friendly level. This is a great program in terms of delivery and offering students specific feedback in everything they do.”

According to Mitchell, the program received three times the estimated number of applications and candidates he referred to as “pioneers in their field.”

As for the future, Mitchell isn’t worried.

“It’s only our first year, and we refer to challenges as opportunities, not problems,” he said. “I’m very confident in the success of this program. So far we’re off to a really good start."