Oct. 4, 2007
By Linda Lockhart
Ohio University Outreach and the College of Education will partner with universities, school districts and nonprofit organizations in four states on a five-year, $6.8 million project that addresses the need for quality alternative teacher certification programs.
The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Transition to Teaching program to recruit, train and retain nontraditional teachers, and to expand nontraditional pathways to teaching in high-need and hard-to-staff school systems. Reflecting its partner states of Kansas, Nevada, Ohio and Texas, along with its funding source, the project goes by the acronym KNOTtT.
Transition programs help fill a need for teachers in urban and rural school districts, where teacher shortages are common. College graduates who have academic knowledge in their fields, such as mathematics or languages arts, but have not undergone teacher training, often are strong prospects.
"For recent college graduates, workers changing careers and paraprofessionals, alternative licensure provides a more accelerated pathway than traditional bachelor's or master's degree programs," said Belinda Gimbert, assistant professor of educational policy and leadership at Ohio State University, who leads KNOTtT. Wright State University is the other Ohio participant.
KNOTtT's goal is to make sure nontraditional pathways support the development of talented applicants so they meet their state's certification requirements. The project hopes to prepare 545 participants to teach math, science, English and language arts, foreign languages, English as a second language and special education.
Ohio University will receive $1.2 million to develop online courses, employ the state of Ohio project director, and develop and implement an online eMentoring system, according to Debbie Catri, director of resource development for Ohio University Outreach. Catri, who facilitated the university's participation in the project, said the next step is to hire a project director, who will serve as the statewide liaison for the project.
The project director will lead and manage the on-site and eMentoring systems and coordinate development of online courses with Ohio University College of Education faculty, Catri said. The director will work out of the university's Pickerington Center.
Catri said mentoring is fundamental to success in transitioning alternatively certified teachers into the classroom effectively. KNOTtT participants will be connected with mentors in the school districts where they teach as well as with eMentors, master teachers hired and trained for that role. The eMentoring system developed by the project will be used by partnering states for the 545 initial participants and later expand to provide national access for other transition-to-teaching participants.
KNOTtT participants are expected to be working in schools by fall 2008. Forty participants will be trained in Ohio -- 10 each year over the first four years of the grant. Nine Southeast Ohio school districts have signed on for the project: Barnesville, Gallia County Local, Vinton County Local, Meigs Local, Federal Hocking Local, Bellaire Local, Gallipolis City Schools, Rock Hill Local and Martins Ferry City Schools.