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Education

Maryland education board helps counties struggling to hire and retain teachers

a teacher discusses a paper with a middle school student
Photo by Drazen Zigic/Getty Images.

By John Domen

Conditionally certified teachers in Maryland have received an extension from the state’s Board of Education, giving them two more years to become fully licensed teachers.

Maryland districts employed more than 3,500 conditionally certified teachers during the most recent school year, double the number employed five years ago, according to a statement from Mohammed Choudhury, Maryland’s state superintendent of schools.

Schools in Prince George’s County alone were prepared to lose about 800 teachers this summer, roughly 8% of their workforce, without the board’s two-year waiver for both conditionally certified teachers and resident teachers.

“It’s a short-term fix, it’s not a long term fix,” Choudhury said.

At another recent meeting, the board heard from a conditionally certified teacher who was set to lose her job because she couldn’t take all of the requisite courses and pass all of the necessary tests to become a fully licensed teacher while teaching full-time in the classroom. The waiver allows the state to give another conditional license — something they were previously unable to do.

“We’re telling her that you have two more years to pass the test,” Choudhury said. But the test is also not “the end all, be all.”

Choudhury spoke more about the long-term fix he had in mind.

“I am hoping before those two years, within this school year, we craft a new set of regulations that looks beyond the test,” Choudhury said.

He rejected the suggestion that this would be “lowering the bar.”

“Anyone telling you that you are lowering the bar does not know the research, has not done the work at the ground level,” he said.

In addition to Prince George’s County, he said Anne Arundel County is seeking a similar waiver.