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State Senate Panel Passes Bill to Help Out-of-State Teachers Get Started in Oklahoma

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An Oklahoma Senate committee advanced on Tuesday a bill that would see the State Board of Education grant certificates to teachers with out-of-state credentials.

Senate Bill 1125 would direct the State Board of Education to certify teachers for similar subject areas and grade levels as their valid, out-of-state credential covers. Sen. Brenda Stanley said rather than the current process of taking Oklahoma teaching tests, they’d just have to pass a background check.

"Since we have such a teacher shortage, don’t you think this is a good response to getting certified teachers back to our classrooms and not put them through undue stress trying to get their teaching certificate in Oklahoma?" Stanley said.

SB1125 author Sen. Adam Pugh said the change could make a big difference for military families given orders to move.

"I got 144 emails from Tinker Air Force Base spouses that identified themselves as teachers, and they left the teaching profession when they [got a permanent change of station] here," Pugh said.

SB1125 would also make it easier for teachers to get into Oklahoma classrooms with certificates issued out of the country.

"Provided that the out-of-country certificate was [from] an agency such as DODEA, the Department of Defense Education Agency, State Department–issued teaching certificate. There is still one requisite there, and that is that there will still be a background check," Pugh said.

SB1125 is one of several measures lawmakers plan to consider this session to deal with a shortage of certified teachers. Oklahoma has more than 3,000 emergency certified teachers.