OKLAHOMA CITY - The State Board of Education handed out more emergency teaching certificates Wednesday, making a historic record.
“We have 1,429 emergency certifications,” said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.
Hofmeister said state board members approved 574 of those emergency certifications Wednesday.
Only weeks have passed since the first day of school, and Oklahoma is breaking records when it comes to finding and hiring educators.
“We had to issue many emergency certifications today, which lead to exceed the annual total of last year,” Hofmeister said.
Emergency certifications are requested after a district has posted for a position and has not received a qualified candidate.
Last year, the board approved 1,160 of them.
“We know that over 60,000 children last year were taught by someone emergency certified,” Hofmeister said.
Meanwhile, some districts are celebrating filling their teacher vacancies.
“Two years ago, we had 100 vacancies on the first day of school. Last year, we opened with 45. This year, we opened with 28, so we're starting to close that gap. Although, our number of emergency certified teachers are going up,” said OKCPS Superintendent Aurora Lora.
However, because districts are closing the gap using emergency efforts, schools are then forced to hire someone with little teaching experience and no training at all.
“An example being a nurse who would step up to teach a science class in high school,” Hofmeister said.
She said, in order to get teachers to work in Oklahoma classrooms, they need a reasonable salary and development support.
“Until we, as a state, are able to provide those resources and tools that teachers need, we will continue to see a growing teacher shortage,” Hofmeister said.
Oklahoma is losing 46 percent of its teachers within their first to five years of teaching.