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Shapiro Administration Announces $1.5 Million in Grants to Help Bolster Special Education Teacher Workforce


Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) today announced that $1.5 million in grant funding is available to institutions of higher education (IHE) that partner with school districts to expedite the process to become a special education teacher.

“As we work to create a pipeline of high-quality educators in the Commonwealth, it is critical that we create partnerships to support schools and today’s learners,” said Acting Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “This grant funding will enable schools to meet their unique staffing needs and provide more opportunities for flexible, accelerated certification for prospective educators.”

Pennsylvania is facing a major shortage of educators across the Commonwealth. A decade ago, roughly 20,000 teacher certifications were issued each year, while in 2021 only about 6,000 were issued. The Shapiro Administration is taking action to address the education workforce shortage and make it a little bit easier for Pennsylvanians to become a teacher, because creating real opportunity for our children starts with having enough well-qualified, well-paid teachers in our classrooms.

In his budget address, Governor Josh Shapiro unveiled a refundable tax credit of up to $2,500 for three years for anyone who earns a new license or certification in education, nursing, or law enforcement, to help more Pennsylvanians become teachers and combat the shortage of education professionals in Pennsylvania. Governor Shapiro’s budget also includes an additional $103.8 million in funding for special education in Pennsylvania. This funding will support school districts as they provide high-quality education services to students with disabilities and special needs.

Through the Accelerated Program for PK-12 Special Education Teacher Certification, grants are available to colleges and universities with approved PK-12 special education certification programs to partner with at least one school district, approved private school, career and technical center, charter school, cyber charter school, or intermediate unit to provide individuals who currently hold bachelor’s degrees with summer field experiences, mentoring by experienced special educators during the school year, and deliver a postbaccalaureate program for PK-12 special education teacher certification within 18 months. Programs must offer most of the coursework during summer 2023 and summer 2024; provide a combination of in-person and virtual options for flexibility and support to the accelerated program participants working full-time; and ensure a minimum of 12 weeks of student teaching.

The maximum grant award for IHEs is $100,000 and the funds are available through December 31, 2024. IHEs should apply through the Attract-Prepare-Retain (APR) Repository by April 7, 2023. A webinar will be held on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, and the session will be recorded and made available on the APR Repository.

This program builds on the Department’s efforts to recruit and retain teachers in Pennsylvania. PDE’s educator workforce strategy works to ensure there is a robust pipeline of educators in place to provide a high-quality education to learners of all ages across the Commonwealth.

Governor Shapiro believes that the foundation for building strong and safe communities starts with an adequate and equitable public education system. His 2023-24 budget is the first step toward a comprehensive solution to improve our public schools, push education dollars out equitably, support our teachers, and invest in targeted solutions that meet students’ needs at every level.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, please visit the website or follow PDE on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Pinterest

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