DES MOINES, Iowa — Teacher resignations are adding up, but a bill awaiting Gov. Reynolds’ signature could help with the teacher shortage.
Des Moines Public Schools, the state’s largest district, has 310 teachers resigning or retiring this summer. Urbandale has 67, Johnston has 65, and Waukee has 60.
The legislation would help get teachers into the classroom by wiping away exams needed to get into programs or receive licenses.
“I was inspired by my teachers to be a teacher,” Josh Simms, who entered the education field during the pandemic, said.
Simms begins student teaching next year. Before he could start as a full-time teacher, he would have to take an exit exam to receive his teaching degree.
The Praxis test is used for teacher candidates’ licensing and certification. Simms said not having to take it would be helpful.
“It’s one less hurdle for us to get into the classroom,” Simms said. “And one less costly hurdle I should say because those exams are pretty expensive.”
School districts could use teachers like Simms sooner rather than later. Between just four metro school districts, more than 500 teachers are still needed for next year.
“I have never seen anything like this in my 37 year education career,” Dr. Theron Schutte, superintendent of Marshalltown Community School District, said.
Schutte said in the past, the Praxis test has created a barrier to get teachers into their classrooms.
“I think in my six years, we’ve had at least two occasions where that was a difficult hurdle to overcome for dual language teachers,” Schutte explains.
“Basically with the Praxis what we are saying is, ‘hey can you pass this standardized test?’ and we are using it as a measure of whether or not you are going to be a good teacher in the classroom,” Emily Piper, lobbyist with the Iowa Association of School Boards, said. “We don’t think that is a good measure number one. And number two with the workforce shortages that we have, this is an easy barrier to eliminate to get more of those folks in the classroom and help fill a lot of those shortage areas.”
If signed into law, higher education institutions would be required to notify students who had previously failed their exit exam that they could apply for an initial teacher license.
They would still have to complete all other requirements. For future teachers like Simms, getting rid of the exam would make a difference.
“It’s one less thing we have to worry about,” Simms said, “and we’re just able to enter into the classroom after we’re done with our studies.”
The governor’s office said they don’t comment on bills Gov. Reynolds hasn’t signed. Gov. Reynolds has 30 days post session to sign the bill.