EKU Tackles Teacher Shortage with Online Option 9 Route to Teacher Certification


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Beginning in Fall 2023, Eastern Kentucky University will offer its popular Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree online. EKU has been nimble and proactive in addressing Kentucky’s teacher shortage, offering tuition discounts to teachers, free applications, expanded program options to address the needs of school districts, and most recently, free textbooks for both graduate and undergraduate students. And now the university has added an online route to the Option 9 alternative certification to its tool kit.

What is Option 9?

Option 9 is a new expedited route to teacher certification created by legislature that allows a person to complete a bachelor’s degree and initial teacher certification in a three-year period while working in a non-teaching position in a school district. During the three-year program, the 200-hour field experience requirement happens concurrent with district employment. Additionally, a traditional student teaching placement is not required, as it is concurrent with the third year of district employment. This is the only alternative route that does not require a bachelor’s degree for admission.

How does Option 9 work?

Option 9 requires a district or group of districts to partner with a college or university to develop a program that receives EPSB approval. Currently, EKU has agreements approved by EPSB with 113 Kentucky school districts that are members of the Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative (CKEC), the Southeast South-Central Education Cooperative (SESC), the West Kentucky Educational Cooperative (WKEC), and the Kentucky Educational Development Corporation (KEDC).

The program and districts must:

· Include a paid residency or paraprofessional component that employs the person within the participating district to gain work experience.

· Use experienced teachers employed by the district to provide coaching and mentorship.

· Outline parameters of acceptance; and

· Be designed to meet the needs of the participating district and may include an emphasis on developing a teacher pipeline for the district’s students, improving the number of underrepresented populations among the district’s workforce, or focusing on increasing the number of teachers with certification areas that are in high demand.

Additionally, the partnering district will assist the candidate in meeting the field experience hours during the first two years of employment. In the third year of employment, the candidate is required to be placed in a setting that is consistent with the certification sought.

What are the employment requirements?

Option 9 requires a candidate to be employed in a classified position while completing coursework. It does not allow the candidate to serve as a teacher while enrolled in the certification route. The Option 9 alternative route only provides initial certification once the candidate completes their bachelor’s degree and certification assessments.

How is EKU committed to putting quality teachers into Kentucky classrooms?

EKU’s College of Education and Applied Human Sciences consistently engages with school district partners to identify ways to meet immediate and long-term needs. EKU faculty and administrators spend many hours in schools co-teaching, conducting research, and engaging with students, teachers, and administrators in an effort to better understand and meet the needs of districts and teachers.

For more than 100 years, EKU has been preparing students for careers in teaching, and its reputation for producing excellent teachers for the region has a long and storied tradition. EKU’s Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education is the highest-enrolled degree program in the College of Education and Applied Human Sciences.

The degree provides Kentucky teacher certification in kindergarten through fifth grades and is focused on current teaching practices and approaches. Students receive instruction from highly qualitied professors with many years of public-school teaching experience and whose research is well respected and published across the field of education. EKU education majors consistently exceed state average scores on Praxis tests and graduates of our programs have 100% placement in schools.

Who is eligible for the online bachelor’s in elementary education program?

Students from eight different states including Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, West Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, and Virginia are eligible to enroll in the online program. Students in the online program will be required to meet all Kentucky state requirements including successfully completing the required Praxis tests and clinical field experience hours.

Clinical field experiences are an important component of preparing pre-service teachers for the classroom. Students spend 200 hours observing and teaching in public schools before their culminating student teaching semester. Clinical field experiences through EKU’s office of Professional Education Services are carefully aligned with academic courses to ensure that students experience content that is applied in practice.

Why choose EKU Online?

Providing a platform to cultivate high-quality educators, EKU blends academic and professional preparation through relevant and evolving content. All EKU Online programs are flexible and convenient options for working professionals. Students complete coursework in accelerated terms, and classes are taught completely online with no campus visits required. All degree-seeking students receive free textbooks delivered to their homes. Personalized support is available to every online student from the moment they inquire until the day they graduate and beyond.

For more information about EKU’s online elementary education bachelor’s degree program, visit go.eku.edu/Online-ElementaryEd.