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Utah Legislature To Shake Up Teacher Licensing

Lee Hale

Changes are coming to teacher licensure in Utah, but not until the state legislature and board of education are on the same page. On Wednesday, members of a licensure task force were at the Capitol discussing options with lawmakers.

There’s a general consensus that the current licensure system isn’t working very well. Right now, there are a number of different ways to become a teacher in Utah, whether that’s the traditional college path or an alternate route where teachers can begin teaching while taking classes on the side.

There’s also the more recent academic pathway, which really only requires a test and any bachelor's degree to get started. It can be confusing for people who want to teach.

"How do they choose the right route and how do they know what the requirements are and how do we give consistent messaging when we have this incredibly complex system?" says Diana Suddreth, director of teacher and learning at the Utah Board of Education.

Suddreth is part of a licensure task force focused on simplifying this system. She says it’s a tricky balance between having a high and singular standard for earning a teaching credential and acknowledging there’s a teacher shortage in this state. School districts can’t afford to be too choosy. 

So, the goal going forward is a streamlined licensure approach that sets a high bar for candidates while still remaining flexible.

The purpose of the meeting this week was for the Utah legislature to begin that conversation. More concrete plans and potential changes in statutes will come during the next session this winter.

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