Indiana Teachers Racing To Beat July 1 Start Of New Professional Development Requirement

The new requirement could help address Indiana's workforce needs, but will it ultimately cause more people to turn away from the teaching profession?

(Indianapolis, Ind.) - The race is on for Indiana teachers trying to beat an impending deadline before new professional growth plan requirements kick in.

During the 2019 legislative session, Indiana lawmakers passed new rules for PGP, the option most Hoosier teachers take toward five-year renewal of their teaching license. Those new rules set to take effect July 1 will require each teacher to complete 15 of the 90 PGP hours every five years in one of three ways.

According to the Indiana Department of Education: 

  • First, the teacher can complete an externship with a company.
  • Second, they could get professional development provided by the state, a local business, or a community partner that provides opportunities for school and employers to partner in promoting career navigation.
  • Third, they could receive professional development by a state, business, or community partner outlining current and future economic needs and how those needs can be disseminated to students.  

Currently, schools provide most professional development opportunities for educators.

The idea behind the new requirement is to address the gap between what children are learning in school and what skills and knowledge Indiana employers want the workforce to have.

The requirement signed into law in April had largely gone unnoticed by teachers until May 10, when the IDOE sent out guidance on how teachers would need to meet the new requirements.

Now, teachers are trying to get their licenses renewed under the existing rules before the July 1 change. The Indianapolis Star reported Sunday that from May 1 through June 2, the IDOE had nearly 23,000 teachers with PGPs in process. That's about a third of all teachers in the state.

That compared with only about 500 PGPs in process during the same time last year.

Teachers organizations across the state say legislators passed the law without input from teachers. In a time when fewer people are entering the teaching profession in Indiana, placing new burdens on them to obtain a teaching license doesn’t make the job seem more attractive.

Brenda Osman, president of the Sunman-Dearborn Educators Association, said the new law adds another requirement teachers don’t need.

“I don’t think they have any idea how man hours our teachers work other jobs just to be able to teach,” says Osman.  “This impacts young teachers the hardest because they make the least money. This is another burden you are putting on their backs.”

Osman also worries that requiring teachers to attend an externship – similar to an internship – at a business could add to Indiana’s teacher shortage if those teachers see an opening to another, more lucrative career.

Indiana lawmakers, Osman believes, should perhaps be required to complete an externship in a school.

“They have little idea what happens in a school. School has changed so much since they were a student,” Osman says.

The Indiana State Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union, says it will seek a legislative solution to the problem. The association says that, in the meantime, it will help teachers identify options for complying with the requirement.

View the IDOE’s May 10 letter to principals and superintendents on the PGP points change at https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/legaffairs/hea-1002-professional-growth-points-guidance-1-6.pdf.

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