On Monday, Glenda Ritz, Indiana superintendent of public instruction, announced Indiana has seen significant gains in the number of educators earning initial practitioner licenses, according to an Indiana Department of Education press release.
After recent years of drops in the number of initial practitioner licensees being issued, Indiana saw more than an 18-percent increase in the number of license recipients in the past year.
“A great education begins with great instruction, and great instruction starts with great teachers,” Ritz said in the release.
Ritz said she was excited to announce that after years of these declining numbers Indiana saw this significant increase, according to the release.
“With a majority of school corporations reporting a teacher shortage in their district, now more than ever, Indiana needs more individuals to choose teaching as a profession,” Ritz said in the release.
“While today’s numbers do not fully solve the shortage, they reflect our strong state commitment and work to support the education profession over the past four years.”
In 2012, new high stakes such as teacher pay were tied to student performance on inefficient tests like Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus.
ISTEP+ is an annual standardized test designed by the Indiana Department of Education to measure students’ mastery of basic skills, particularly reading, writing and mathematics.
In addition, Indiana also changed its compensation structure for educators by taking away local control and flexibility.
The state immediately began to see a decline in the number of individuals entering the teaching profession.
Ritz formed the Blue Ribbon Commission for the Recruitment and Retention of Excellent Educators.
After one year of the commission and Ritz’s advocacy on behalf of the profession, Indiana is now seeing an increase in its number of teachers.
Many of the initial licensees in this data were likely freshmen in college when Ritz came into office, according to the release.
“Before I was elected, Hoosier teachers were under attack, and it is clear that those attacks took their toll,” Ritz said in the release.
“Today’s numbers show that the first steps of healing have begun, but we have more work to do.”
Ritz said she looks forward to working with the legislature and the next governor to ensure every Hoosier student has access to an excellent educator by systematically addressing the needs of the teaching profession, according to the release.
Between 2012 and 2015, Indiana saw more than a 34-percent decline in the number of individuals receiving initial practitioner educator licenses.
The new data shows that for the first time in four years, Indiana has seen an increase in the number of individuals earning an initial practitioner license.
The state saw a 20-percent decline from 2014 to 2015.
Earlier this year, Ritz directed the Indiana Department of Education to implement the recommendations of the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission after the legislature failed to address the teacher shortage in a meaningful way during the 2016 legislative session.
Since that time, the department has established the Indiana Center on Teacher Quality at IU using a $5 million State Personnel Development Grant.
This will work to increase the number of high quality teachers in Indiana by providing current and prospective teachers with support and resources to be successful in the classroom, according to the release.
The department expanded its work under the state’s nationally recognized Educator Equity Plan. Since its development, the department has released updated guidance to the field in the area of teacher leadership.
The department also awarded $24,000 in grants to educators last year to support National Board Certification.
Due to the success of this program, the department has opened a second opportunity for teachers to pursue this grant, according to the release.