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Para to Teacher Pipeline Program Options

Paradigm Shift offers hands-on support and guidance to help paraprofessionals on their journeys through graduate school and teacher licensure testing. They work with local districts to provide in-person MTEL test prep, online MTEL test prep, MTEL Tutors, reimbursement for MTEL fees, and targeted coaching. JET is a pathway to teaching for paraprofessionals without bachelor's degrees who want to become licensed classroom teachers in their urban community high needs schools.

JET recruits paraprofessionals into their program, coordinates crucial financial aid, guides college admissions and enrollment, and sustains ongoing support and mentoring over the multi-year journey to become a teacher. The Teach Western Mass Residency is a one-year, accelerated training and licensure program—approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education—that gives aspiring teachers without prior education coursework or experience from all backgrounds the chance to lead a classroom while receiving significant support toward earning Massachusetts certification. Paraprofessionals who already hold a Bachelors’ Degree can enroll in the program.

Springfield College offers several traditional and non-traditional degree options, including its regional online college and S-Cubed programs. The weekend program offers options for Bachelor’s Degree completion, and honors previous work experiences as a paraprofessional as credits towards a degree. S-Cubed is a Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education-approved program for teachers who currently work in the Springfield Public School System and are looking to receive their postbaccalaureate initial teaching licensure. Employees of SPS are eligible for up to $10,000 in funding through a new Employer Grant Opportunity.

The Center for Equity in Urban Education (CEUE) seeks to increase the number and diversity of qualified teachers in Springfield and Western Mass. The program allows paraprofessionals already working in urban schools get their bachelor’s degree so they can pursue a teaching license. It also gives teachers or anyone else with a bachelor’s degree the ability to pursue their master of arts in teaching degree.

Bay Path University offers an accelerated degree in Education that can help paras get to the front of the classroom. They offer undergraduate education degree programs with and without a licensure track with flexible schedule options. SPS employees also benefits from a discounted tuition rate of $400 a credit with no hidden fees.

The Teacher Diversification Pilot Program is a state-funded pilot grant program that provides approximately $2 million in competitive funding to support local school and district efforts to strengthen and diversify existing teacher recruitment and retention programs. The pilot program provides tuition assistance to support enrollment into an approved-educator preparation program and MTEL preparation and examination vouchers to Paraprofessionals with or without bachelor's degrees.

The DESE Emergency License has helped aspiring educators looking to join the profession who were impacted by the COVID-19 state of emergency and the inability to satisfy certain aspects of the licensure requirements, such as a passing score on the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) or Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL). The emergency license will be valid for employment in the 2021-22 school year and will expire on June 30, 2022.

Pearson, in collaboration with The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, makes available to educator preparation programs a supply of MTEL test fee vouchers to assist their students with test fees. In addition to the vouchers provided to educator preparation programs, SPS has purchased vouchers through the DESE Teacher Diversification Grant for aspiring educators of color.

The Springfield Public Schools Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with building principals and Chief Schools Officers, provides on-going, targeted outreach and support to paraprofessionals interested in becoming licensed educators. This takes shape in the form of 1:1 meetings, large group information sessions, presentations at paraprofessional professional development opportunities, and Paraprofessional Nights.

Springfield Public Schools partners closely with our local paraprofessional union and the MAFT/AFT to collaborate on opportunities to bolster the para to teacher pipeline. Previous collaborations included attendance the AFT conference in New York City in 2019, co-planning paraprofessional informational sessions, and on-going check-ins. Union Plus in association with the American Federation of Teachers has also introduced an exciting new program that provides paraprofessionals with the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree AT NO COST.
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