Western Nevada College develops program to cut teacher shortage
Western Nevada College will be expanding its education program to address the state’s critical teaching shortage and high turnover rate.
The new offerings, provided within WNC’s academic division of Professional and Applied Technology headed by director Georgia White, are intended to give students pursuing degrees in education more flexibility in dual enrollment courses and postsecondary work.
“Western Nevada College is working with our K-12 partners to promote education as a pathway,” White said. “Specifically, we are working with all high schools in (Carson, Churchill, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties) to offer several dual enrollment courses in education and other postsecondary preparatory work.”
Nationally, teachers’ attrition rates can vary geographically, but Nevada exceeds the country and recruitment strategies thus far have not been effective. According to a study released in January on the Clark County Education Association’s website, teacher turnout has a negative impact on student outcomes, especially on those of diverse backgrounds or are low-performing.
While Nevada has reported a 25 percent drop in the amount of teachers enrolled in education programs between 2010 and 2016, with only 20 percent completing those programs in this six-year period, the state also reported gains since then, according to the CCEA report. The state improved funding to $152 million in 2017 and allocated $20 million seeking to recruit and retain teachers through TEACH grants, Teach Nevada scholarships, Nevada Institute on Teacher and Education Preparation18 strategies, the CCEA reported, although more is needed.
WNC’s collaboration with its Nevada System of Higher Education facilities hopes to help fill gaps where needed through its new certification to attract more candidates.
“This is an all-hands on deck moment in our history,” White said.
WNC offers lower-division classes at its four-year institutions for its education degrees, and Nevada State College allows those who enroll to finish a bachelor’s degree while remaining in their area. It offers flexibility to complete the program on their terms, White said.
It also leads to a more “vibrant education program” at WNC, White said, including an Educator’s Rising club that allowed high school juniors and seniors to develop their study skills and learn more about education as a potential major or career choice. The program implemented by WNC education professor Sarah Lobsinger was built at Carson High School and follows the WeTEACH setup in Washoe County School District with the inclusion of EDU 110 Society and Education and an internship opportunity, a dual-credit course.
Lobsinger said the program has been in place now for two years and is demonstrating promise for Northern Nevada’s rural school districts to offer a similar setup. She said she will be teaching introductory education courses at WNC geared toward high school and college students pursuing a career in the field.