RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new report has found that additional state testing requirements, the costs associated with obtaining a teaching license, and confusion surrounding the licensure process are all barriers contributing to Virginia’s teacher shortage.
The report, from Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission (JLARC), found that 4.8% of teaching positions in Virginia were open at the start of the 2023-24 school year. That’s compared to 3.9% in the 2022-23 school year.
The report says a key problem is the fact that aspiring teachers have to pass a Virginia-specific test (the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment) in addition to the nationally recognized Praxis Test to obtain their license. JLARC recommends the state create a waiver allowing certain qualified applicants to bypass the test or for the state to eliminate the test altogether.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin told 8News he wants to see the test eliminated.
“We should have a standard certification process that is equal to what other states are doing so that we can have teachers who can come here from other states when they move and go to work right away,” Youngkin said. “There is no sense that we should put an incremental roadblock in their way.”
The report also says the costs associated with becoming a teacher are a barrier. It says tuition, tests, and unpaid student teaching can present financial problems.
The reports recommend Virginia put more money into the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program. In 2023, Virginia allocated $708,000 for the program while neighboring states, including Maryland ($8 million) and North Carolina ($6 million), made significantly larger investments.
8News asked Youngkin if he would prioritize additional funding for the program in next year’s budget. He said he would, and highlighted money allocated to other programs.
“We have put $29 million to work since my executive order since last year, either to work or set up to support continuing education for teachers and of course scholarships should be part of it,” Youngkin said.
The report also notes that there is a “lack of clarity” about what is required to obtain a license. To fix that, it recommends the Department of Education create a website that clearly explains what a teacher needs to do to get their license.