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Applicants for UCSB Teacher Program Up 25% for 2017

Most people who see the acronym TSA think of the Transportation Security Administration and long queues at airports. But in the world of education, those three letters hold a particularly ominous meaning; they stand for Teacher Shortage Area.

The U.S. Department of Education has been keeping such a list since 1990 and the TSAs — simply defined as “an inadequate supply of elementary or secondary school teachers” — for each state have only grown in the past two decades.

For instance, the list for California for 2016-17 is Art/Music/Drama (K–Grade 12); Early Childhood Special Education (Ages 5–8); Special Education (Ages 5–21); Foreign Languages (K–Grade 12); Mathematics (Grades 7–12); Natural Sciences (Grades 7–12).

California, along with many of the nation’s largest states, has seen huge drops in those enrolling in teacher-education programs. From 2010-15 in California, enrollment fell 53 percent.

The reasons for such numbers are almost as large as the drops themselves: Teaching seems a less stable career, teachers and teachers unions have often been demonized of late, and budget cuts seem to hit school districts hard.

A November 2014 National Education Association survey reported nearly 50 percent of all teachers are considering leaving the profession due to standardized testing.

In such an atmosphere, it’s all the more striking that UCSB’s Teacher Education Program can claim a 25 percent increase in applicants for the 2017-18 school year — its highest total in six years.

Those numbers are up in almost every area, from mathematics to the multiple subject credential (for K-6 teachers), from science to history/social sciences.

“Few programs provide the kinds of experiences, individual attention, and close collaborations with schools that we have here,” says Tine Sloan, director of the Teacher Education Program.

“We place teacher candidates in classrooms for the full academic year, so they learn about practice in practice,” she said. “In the end, our graduates walk out of one of the most acclaimed programs in the country, and walk into their first year classrooms ready to teach.

‘Our graduates are in high demand.”

Sloan knows what makes good teacher education; she is a recent recipient of a $1.5 million UC President’s Research Catalyst Award, and she will lead a nine-campus research consortium focused on teacher preparation and training. What works at UCSB will soon be shared and get better.

The Teacher Education Program at UCSB Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School offers the multiple-subject, single-subject, and education specialist moderate/severe teaching credentials with a master's degree in education.

The programs provide future teachers with a theoretical foundation integrated with fieldwork that leads to a California State Teaching Credential and a master's in education. The programs are run as a cohort, with the elementary and secondary cohorts no larger than 60 students each.

The Teaching Credential Programs are full-time, post-graduate programs that begin in June and conclude the following June.

— George Yatchisin for UCSB's Gevirtz School.

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