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State Sens. Camera Bartolotta, R-46th, and Wayne Langerholc Jr., R-35th, teamed up to address a shortage of teachers in Pennsylvania.

The pair earlier this week introduced a bill that simplifies the process for out-of-state teachers to receive certification.

The dwindling number of certified teachers, coupled with challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, have raised concerns about the ability of school districts to appropriately staff instructional positions for the current school year.

The proposed legislation enables Pennsylvania residents who currently teach in other states and new residents who have recently moved to Pennsylvania to continue their teaching career in the commonwealth.

A person who has completed any state-approved educator preparation program from an accredited institution of higher education is eligible for a comparable in-state instructional certification.

Additionally, the bill would grant Pennsylvania certification to any candidate who holds a valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or has a qualifying score on equivalent content tests toward the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s testing and certification requirements.

The senators said the bill would streamline Pennsylvania’s rigorous training standards for teachers to ensure students can continue to access quality instruction.

According to PDE, the number of newly issued in-state instructional teaching certificates has dropped by 71% since 2009.

Pennsylvania used to issue licenses to more than 14,000 new teachers annually. In 2016-17, the state issued 4,412.

“The current teacher certification system creates a huge barrier for new state residents who want to share their talents and knowledge with the leaders of tomorrow,” said Bartolotta. “Breaking down these roadblocks will help more teachers come to Pennsylvania and create a positive impact on students and our communities in the long run.”

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