SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — According to the Missouri Department of Elementary Secondary Education, in 2021, more than 3,500 teaching positions in the state went unfilled or were filled by candidates without the proper qualifications.

In an effort to help this, Ozarks Technical Community College is updating its teaching degree to remove barriers and increase accessibility for more students.

“Even before the coronavirus, we needed more teachers in Missouri, and the pandemic accelerated the number of resignations and retirements, ” said Angela Miller, OTC department chair of teacher education. “The changes we are making to our teacher education degree will allow more students the opportunity to follow their passion and pursue a career in the classroom.” 

Currently, OTC offers an Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT). The new degree will be called the Associate of Arts in Teacher Education (AA.TED). Like the AAT, the AA.TED is designed for students who are planning to transfer to a university to complete a bachelor’s degree and eventually become K-12 teachers. The new degree pathway will debut in 2022-23.

Features of the Associate of Arts in Teacher Education include:  

  • The AA.TED will require 60 hours to graduate, five fewer than the AAT.  
  • The AA.TED can be completed entirely online.
  • The AA.TED introductory course will have a workforce development focus. While teaching students about the degree pathway and career options, they will also learn about substitute teaching and paraprofessional employment opportunities. A student could potentially work in an education setting while earning their associate degree.
  • The degree has minimal textbook costs—almost all of the education classes in the degree pathway use no-cost course materials.  

 The AA.TED will also drop its requirement of a 2.75-grade point average for any student intending to graduate and transfer into a bachelor’s degree teacher education program. To align with state requirements, AAT students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.75. While students in the AA.TED will still have to maintain a 3.0 GPA in their content and education courses; the overall cumulative GPA requirement is 2.0 — the same as anyone pursuing any associate degree.