TeachNC will ensure federal relief dollars remove financial barriers for aspiring teachers
Financial assistance is now available to new and pre-service teachers in North Carolina facing the cost of taking state-required license exams.
Under a new initiative, TeachNC, a teacher recruitment resource within the Department of Public Instruction, is providing reimbursements for licensing exam costs or study materials for licensing exams, which can average at or above $450. The effort is being funded with $3 million from the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) controlled by Gov. Roy Cooper.
To be fully licensed in North Carolina public schools, most teachers must pass standardized exams specific to their grade span or subject area. Many elementary school teachers, in particular, have been challenged in recent years to pass a required math exam, and some have had to take and pay for it multiple times.
State education leaders, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt and the State Board of Education, are seeking to modernize the state’s licensure and compensation system to allow other rigorous options for demonstrating competency in order to hold a North Carolina educator license. But for now, the current requirements – and the potential personal cost to teachers – remain in place.
“We know the current licensure requirements are burdensome for teachers, and this is precisely why we continue to advocate for licensure reform,” Truitt said. “But while that work is underway, this funding is instrumental to eliminating financial burdens unfairly placed on aspiring educators as they study and prepare to become licensed teachers in North Carolina. This funding is just one way we’re working to eliminate barriers to the profession and strengthen the educator pipeline so we can support every student’s access to a high-quality, excellent teacher.”
The reimbursement program also includes the participation of TEACH.org, the national non-profit organization of which TeachNC is a part. TeachNC provides licensure advising, downloadable guides and financial aid resources for aspiring educators in North Carolina.
“TEACH is committed to both growing the teacher pipeline and making sure those teachers reflect the diversity of the students they serve,” said Veronica Wilson, vice president of programs at TEACH. “We’re thrilled to partner with Governor Cooper and NCDPI towards those shared goals.”
This opportunity is also possible due to an expanding partnership between TEACH and Study.com, which provides test preparation courses and resources to aspiring teachers across the country through their Keys to the Classroom initiative.
Aspiring North Carolina teachers – as well as nearly 1,000 current teachers who need to pass an exam to remain in the classroom – can now receive a reimbursement from TeachNC to cover their licensure exams and study expenses by simply creating a TeachNC account and submitting a request at https://ontch.org/TeacherTestPrep. In addition, everyone eligible to receive a reimbursement can access a variety of preparation materials through Study.com. Aspiring teachers will therefore be more likely to take the exams required to earn their license and more likely to pass those exams.
“Our work with TeachNC has already supported more than 3,600 aspiring teachers in our state to apply to an educator preparation program,” said Dr. Jason Caldwell, director of TeachNC and Educator Recruitment Partnerships at NCDPI. “This is such an important and tangible way we can alleviate financial burdens experienced by those choosing to enter the teaching profession while helping to bolster the state’s teaching pipeline long-term.”
Through its affiliation with TEACH, which collaborates with states and metropolitan regions to build strong and diverse teacher talent pipelines, TeachNC provides aspiring teachers a range of free tools and services designed to overcome the known barriers they encounter while pursuing a teaching career.