Better preparing first-year teachers is on the agenda for Tuesday’s Missouri Board of Education meeting.

Missouri has 42 accredited Education Preparation Programs (EPP) who are preparing teachers, counselors, and leaders for the state’s K-12 public schools. An board meeting agenda summary by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says a significant percentage of first-year teachers are not comprehensively prepared in programs overseen by the state.

According to data recently presented to the state board, less than 50% of 2023-24 first-year teachers completed a comprehensive state certification program prior to entering the classroom. Around 35% had little or no preparation at all.

A presentation is scheduled to be given during Tuesday’s Missouri Board of Education meeting to discuss ways the state education agency is tackling this challenge.

The discussion comes as Missouri has been experiencing a revolving door of teachers for several years. In 2022, the department reported that roughly half of Missouri’s teachers leave the profession within the first five years.

A reoccurring theme heard during talks about teacher retention and recruitment efforts centers around some educators expressing that they “did not sign up for this,” sometimes referring to classroom management problems and behavior struggles among some students. Other main arguments for leaving include teacher pay, not feeling supported, and lack of planning time.

Whether Tuesday’s meeting will include discussions about teacher apprenticeships remain to be seen. During a board meeting earlier this year, members heard a presentation from Missouri State University about the school’s teacher apprenticeship program.

MSU’s apprenticeship program helps to give teachers-in-training more on-the-job experience prior to finishing their training. The school has found that the real world experience helps to retain teachers long-term.

Other higher education institutions who sponsor registered apprenticeships for K-12 teachers or teachers aides are Central Methodist, Missouri Southern, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Three Rivers College, Missouri Western, and Mineral Area College.

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