Aspiring teachers work toward degrees while working in school systems
BloomBoard, a leading Pennsylvania-based talent development provider for K–12 school districts, today announced a groundbreaking partnership with Point Park University, a dynamic and growing Pittsburgh-based university and statewide leader in educator preparation, to address the pressing teacher shortage in Pennsylvania and across the country.
This alliance has the potential to bridge the gap between higher education and K–12 schools by creating new pathways for aspiring teachers already working within the state’s school systems. These, in turn, will increase the supply of quality teachers within the state and beyond through more accessible and relevant degree programs.
“Two pillars of our new strategic plan are innovation and providing more diverse learners with access to higher education. This partnership exemplifies both of them,” said Dr. Chris W. Brussalis, president of Point Park University. “Our School of Education has long been doing incredible work in teacher education and certification, so this partnership is a natural extension of what we do here.”
Initially, Point Park University and BloomBoard will offer an on-the-job Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education, targeted to be available beginning in Spring 2024. This program will be offered to educator learners through their school district employers and Intermediate Units, who will provide financial and logistical support to cohorts of educator learners who enroll in the program.
This unique instructional model will allow participants to earn degree credit while they work in actual classrooms, making higher education more accessible to community members within districts and affordable to aspiring teachers who have faced barriers in a traditional system.
Future potential plans for the partnership include the launch of an on-the-job based Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, on-the-job based master’s degree programs designed for alternative certification for candidates with non-education bachelor’s degrees, and accelerated associate’s degree programs to align more general education content with the demands of teaching.
In the 2022-23 school year, a record number of 9,587 Pennsylvania teachers chose to leave their positions, as reported in a May 2023 study by the Penn State Center for Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis. This surge in departures led to a 1.5 percent increase in the attrition rate compared to the previous school year, marking the most significant rise observed over the past decade.
Adding to this concerning trend, data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education revealed a substantial decline of nearly 72 percent in in-state teacher certifications from the 2012-2013 school year to 2021-2022. The Department has worked hard to balance increased flexibility while maintaining the high-quality standards known for teachers in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Andria Saia, executive director of the Harrisburg-area’s Capital Area Intermediate Unit 15, who has been a champion in finding solutions to bolster the state’s teacher pipeline, shared, “There is so much demand for the programs that will quickly stem from the BloomBoard-Point Park University partnership. Pennsylvania’s forward-thinking intermediate units and school districts are hungry for more options to address the teacher shortage in a scalable, equitable way. This work will help to increase the impact, and ultimately provide a quality education to more Pennsylvania students.”
“We are particularly proud of this new partnership with Point Park University to advance groundbreaking career advancement pathways for greater numbers of aspiring teachers,” said Sanford Kenyon, CEO of BloomBoard. “By forging strong collaborations with partners like Point Park, we aim to begin breaking down the barriers to educator advancement and building a more diverse and well-equipped teacher workforce for the future of children across the state.”
Those employed in a school who are interested in the program should contact their district administrator about participation. District administrators looking for additional information should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.