As the COVID-19 pandemic rampaged through the world in 2020, the unemployment rate has seen a noticeable quantitative dive in recent years. The effect of limited gathering, quarantining, personal loss and fear of the virus has created a sense of uncertainty within the job market.
Expectantly, this uncertainty has led to a reluctant job force, especially within the Clark County School District (CCSD), with rampant staff shortages and longer hours for those who remain employed.
However, the UNLV Paraprofessional Pathways Project might hold the solution to this problem. With the program, new educators can be fast tracked into the bachelor’s degree program and obtain their teaching license as soon as possible.
With educators being trained and given licenses at such a rapid rate, what does this mean for the future of CCSD education, and just how might it affect the quality of primary and secondary learning?
“I believe the PPP program is a great way for paraprofessionals to earn a BS degree in education,” said Christen Smith, a freshman hospitality & marketing major at UNLV.
“Paraprofessionals are already employed in the school district and have a general understanding of elementary/early childhood education,” Smith continued. “The program gives people who have an understanding, the ability to fill in where needed. It’s a win-win scenario.”
Smith further elaborated that paraprofessionals finish the accreditation process within the span of a year, and as a result, students have teachers who can proficiently guide them through elementary subjects like reading, math and science.
According to Kenny Varner, a professor of literacy education at UNLV, matching demographics within the Paraprofessional Pathways Project seem to closely match those of the students within the CCSD system, creating a smoother transition between the program and on-the-job training. The program is designed to be provided in-person, hybrid and online, and has a current course duration of six to eight weeks.
In most cases, speeding up the process in which teachers receive their education has greatly benefited those who work as support staff or assistant teachers. Since such jobs receive very minimal pay, giving teachers the state background of education training and teaching them the ropes of proper education can help create higher quality learning in the long run.
Although expediting the process of obtaining a teaching license might seem premature, the program requires that applicants of each respective cohort have an associate’s degree or 60 college credits to be eligible, thereby creating some incentive for practical training before applying.
Teachers who received their training abroad are not eligible for a full-time teaching position in CCSD. The Paraprofessional Pathways Project capitalizes on this previous training and builds upon it to ensure a smooth and quick transition into the CCSD education system.
With such a program, support staff or assistant teachers can get a thorough training and understanding of the education system, while simultaneously receiving hands-on training with students and ensuring that they receive the highest level of education.
Additionally, the Professional Pathways Project can ensure that those six to eight weeks prepare the already qualified teachers into licensed experts and give them the necessary tools to achieve full licensure.
As schools continue to open up during post-pandemic times, ensuring that qualified and licensed teachers are present is a must, not only for CCSD, but for parents and students.
If you’re interested in the Professional Pathways Project (PPP) and want more information, visit www.unlv.edu/education/paraprofessional-pathway.