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July 28, 2023

At Delaware County Community College, aspiring teachers can begin earning their degrees as high school students

A free program aimed at reducing K-12 staffing shortages allows teens to earn 38 credits before they matriculate

Education Teachers
DCCC Teacher program Delaware County Community College/Facebook

A new Delaware County Community College program allows high school juniors to earn up to 38 credits toward their teaching degrees for free. It aims to help reduce the national teacher shortage.

Delaware County Community College is offering high school students an opportunity to earn credits toward teaching degrees for free. 

The new, two-year program aims to address the teacher shortage by fast-tracking the college education of high schoolers interested in becoming teachers. Participants can complete up to 38 credits that can be transferred into an associate's degree program at DCCC or into a bachelor's degree program at a four-year institution.  

DCCC is enrolling up to 70 students to begin the program this fall. They will take three classes each semester. The cost of the program, including textbooks, tutoring services and academic support coaches, is being covered by Delaware County Council. 

"At no cost to students, their families, or the school districts, candidates can complete 38 credits toward an associate or bachelor's degree in education," DCCC President Marta Yera said. "This program hopes to shorten the time to prepare up to 70 students as qualified teaching professionals."

Schools across the country have faced teacher shortages in recent years. The issue is partly the result of fewer people pursuing careers as teachers. Enrollment in teacher preparation programs fell by one-third from 2010 to 2018, though enrollment figures have increased since then, NPR reported in March. 

report released earlier this year by a group of education advocates showed that the number of teachers certified annually in Pennsylvania has dropped from 20,000 in 2010 to fewer than 7,000. Between the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, 7.7% of Pennsylvania teachers – a total of 9,587 – left their jobs, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported

Last October, 45% of U.S. public schools had at least one teacher vacancy. And the Upper Darby School District, the largest in Delaware County, was 40 teachers short at the beginning of last school year.

Last summer, Pennsylvania's Department of Education unveiled a three-year plan to increase and diversify the number of teachers in K-12 schools. The plan calls for increasing the number of students enrolled in teacher preparation programs from 18,000 to 21,600 by 2025. It also calls for increasing the percentage of students of color from 14% to 25%. 

In May, state legislators proposed a bill that would give $10,000 stipends to students enrolled in teacher preparation programs in Pennsylvania. Additional $5,000 stipends would be offered to student teachers that complete their requirements in schools that traditionally don't have student teachers or have high teacher vacancies.

High school students interested in joining DCCC's program may apply online. Anyone with questions is asked to email or call (610) 359-5050.