The Purdue University College of Education has launched a program it says will help address the teacher shortage in Indiana and benefit students who decide to become teachers late in their undergraduate studies. The Boilermaker Track to Teaching gives Purdue juniors and seniors a path that didn’t previously exist to obtaining an Indiana Secondary teaching license.
“If you didn’t come into Purdue knowing you wanted to be a teacher, our paths were you could either change your major and add time to your degree or you could wait to graduate and enroll in our graduate program that provides a credential, and we were thinking there has to be a better way to do that,” said Jennifer Barce, assistant dean for teacher education.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Barce said the BTT program creates an internal recruiting opportunity to add more teachers to the workforce.
“We are always looking for strategies to do that. We have a robust program already, but certainly in those shortage areas, those secondary areas like math and science and technology – things that Purdue is known for – we really want to increase that population of teachers for our state as well.”
Purdue says the program is open to almost all majors on campus. Barce says students can complete one-third of the university’s post-grad credentialing program while they’re still undergraduates.
Students will take a class in each semester of their senior year. Then, because the program has both residential and online components, they can take a summer course from wherever they are.
In the final year of the BTT program, students will be eligible to teach full-time at an accredited school in Indiana on a Transition to Teaching permit.
“[The program] gives them some preparation, puts them out in the field and can get them fully licensed in a really quick and smooth method,” Barce says. “They still have to meet all the requirements of a graduate program. We think it’s a way for people to consider a career that maybe wasn’t on their radar when they first came to college.”
The program is currently being piloted with a few students, but Barce says they plan to fully implement it in the next academic year. She says looking forward, the main goal is to maintain the quality of the education students receive as they look to move to teaching.
“We don’t want to in anyway undercut our traditional programs, and I don’t think this will; it’s really targeted to a different audience, but still gives that clear path to licensing for current undergrads who may be a little later in their career.”