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New Indiana teacher training program offers 3 college degrees for $45,000 or less

Two young women sit at desks in a classroom with laptops open, looking to a teacher who sits between them going through a textbook.

A new teacher training program aims to alleviate Indiana’s statewide teacher shortage and fix a leaky teacher pipeline.

Allison Shelley for EDUimages

Looking to bolster the size and diversity of Indiana’s teaching force, a new program will offer education students three degrees for the price of one.

The program, created through a partnership between Marian University and Ivy Tech Community College, will enable students to earn an associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree in five years. Students in the cadet teaching program, which lets them complete the first year of courses for free in high school, can do it in four. 

Students will complete the associate degree at Ivy Tech, which typically takes two years. Next they will transfer from Ivy Tech to the Klipsch Educators College at Marian University, where they will earn a bachelor’s degree after another two years. A free one-year master’s degree program and a year of paid clinical residency in an Indiana classroom will follow. 

Marian University President Dan Elsener speaks at a podium in front of an audience, with Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner sitting next to him.

Marian University President Dan Elsener announced the teacher training partnership Wednesday with Ivy Tech Community College and state education officials.

Carson TerBush / Chalkbeat

The program will launch this fall on six Ivy Tech campuses with around 100 students, aiming to have about 50% students of color, according to a Wednesday press release. By 2025, it plans to enroll 500 students.

The creators of the program hope it will help alleviate Indiana’s statewide teacher shortage. Most schools have struggled to fill vacancies in recent years, in part because of a flawed teacher pipeline. A March report found that only 16% of Indiana students who pursued teaching degrees at state schools ended up employed as teachers, and the proportion is only 5% for Black teaching students.

“Our teacher pipeline is leaking across Indiana,” Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said.

Not only does Indiana lack the teachers needed to fill its schools, there is a stark contrast in the racial breakdown of current students and teachers. While more than 30% of Indiana’s 1.1 million public school students are students of color, only around 7% of teachers were nonwhite in the 2019-20 school year, according to state data. The disparity is believed to especially harm students of color, who lack relatable role models in the classroom.

“All students benefit from a more diverse teaching core, especially students who have the opportunity to have teachers who look like them,” said Teresa Lubbers, Indiana commissioner for higher education.

Students studied in the report were more likely to complete an education degree if they began in their first year of college or if they received more financial aid. The report also encouraged increasing diversity in the teacher pipeline by offering more financial aid and support to students from low-income backgrounds.

Jenner said the new program will employ strategies identified in the report by encouraging students to join the program early, offering low costs and financial aid for multiple degrees, and focusing on recruiting students of color.

Ivy Tech, Indiana’s largest public postsecondary school, has more than 40 locations across the state that enroll more than 150,000 students a year. More than 40% of Indiana’s college students of color attend Ivy Tech, including more than half of the state’s Black college students, according to Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann.

Ellspermann said coordinating the new program through Ivy Tech will offer more students of color an affordable entry point to the teaching profession.

“We have a large megaphone to amplify the needs,” Ellspermann said.

Ellspermann said recruitment will prioritize high school students, regardless of whether they decide to start the program early, to increase awareness of the opportunity as students consider future plans. 

Marian University President Daniel Elsener said through a combination of federal and state financial aid and philanthropy, many students will pay less than $45,000 to complete all three degrees. He said Marian University recently raised over $40 million for scholarships for teaching students at the school’s Klipsch Educators College.

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