An online program will shorten the amount of time it takes lateral entry teachers — aspiring educators who have been hired to teach in North Carolina schools and are not yet fully licensed — from three years to one year.
Diana Lys, assistant dean of program assessment, accreditation and teacher preparation at UNC, and Michael Maher, assistant dean for professional education and accreditation at NC State University, teamed together to develop an online competency-based program for these lateral entry teachers.
“After I arrived here at Carolina, I realized that the two research universities in the NC system have a lot we could combine with what we have learned in education research to lateral teachers,” Lys said.
"The program will be entirely online and will allow enrolled students to complete the course on their own time," Maher said.
“If you look at some of the data around lateral entry teacher preparation, there are about 5,000 lateral entry teachers in North Carolina. What we have seen over time is how this number continues to grow, but unfortunately, these are probably the most underserved teachers in our state in terms of their preparation,” Maher said.
He said current programs providing licenses often consist of face-to-face courses. These courses are hard because teachers who live in rural areas cannot easily attend them.
“This program, because it is going to be online, broadens the reach,” Maher said.
This online program includes preparation in the areas of mathematics, science, language arts and social studies. Lys said, in the future, it will also include programs for elementary school and special education.
“Currently, we are developing the project with a grant from the UNC system’s general administration. Once the development time goes on, it will become tuition-driven,” Lys said. “With the tuition, our goal is to keep that under $5,000 to complete the course of the program. We hope the revenue it generates will help to sustain it.”
She said some school districts offer scholarships for lateral entry teachers.
Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, dean of the UNC School of Education, said partnering with NC State has been wonderful.
“The way we are setting it up is to start with an experiment cohort of about 50, then try to ramp this up in the coming years,” Abd-El-Khalick said.
He said UNC and NC State will promote the program through social media.
“We would be happy to pursue partnerships with whole school districts, as well as individual schools to promote the program,” Abd-El-Khalick said.
Lys said program development began in March 2016 and is expected to launch in October 2017.
“The lateral entry teachers need the support and the background to make sure all of those children in the classrooms can be successful, and I think NC State and Carolina working together can help to address that need,” she said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.