EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Utah student teachers work a full semester without pay. Now they might be getting a stipend.

Jan 25, 2024, 4:11 PM | Updated: Jan 26, 2024, 11:21 am

HB221 Stipends for Future Educators offers money for full-time students to use during their semeste...

HB221 Stipends for Future Educators offers money for full-time students to use during their semester of student teaching.(Jeffrey D. Allred /Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred /Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY– State Representative Karen Peterson, is proposing a bill that would reward stipends to student teachers in their first full teaching semester.

Under her bill, H.B. 221, Peterson says student teachers would be able to apply for $6,000 to support them while doing classroom training.

“Student teachers in Utah are doing it without any pay,” Peterson told KSL NewsRadio on Thursday.

“So [student teachers] are paying their tuition and they’re paying the cost that they have of just living their lives. And they’re not really able to work during that semester, because it’s a full-time experience to student teaching for that last semester before they graduate.”

Peterson said the real issue she’s getting at is rising turnover rates. Teacher retention is dropping nationwide, with one statistic showing that 42% of Utah teachers quit before working five years on the job. At the national level, that number is 44%.

“We’ve got to find out ways to have stronger induction programs so [teachers] get off on the right foot to begin with.”

 

The audio above was from a KSL NewsRadio In-Depth on Jan. 25, 2024.

Weber State University education student Chandler Allen agrees, saying, “the inability to financially provide either for themselves or for their families has left many student teachers feeling helpless, anxious and overwhelmed.”

According to exit surveys of teachers by Envision Utah, two top reasons of teacher departure are burnout and compensation.

According to a press release from Rep. Peterson’s office, her bill has the support of Deans of Education from Utah State University, Weber State University, Utah Valley University, Utah Tech University, the University of Utah and Westminster.

Utah Tech University Dean of Education Debra Sabey said, “this bill would be a very beneficial way to assist students.”

She adds in Peterson’s release that “The final semester of student teaching is a critical piece of their preparation to become a teacher. They have a dedicated master teacher to coach and support them as they put all they have learned into practice. It requires teacher candidates to, in essence, be a full-time teacher for about 12 weeks, without pay.”

The classroom management experience could be even more important considering 41% of the state’s teachers do not have a degree in education. Envision Utah Vice President Jared Brown said this is not a sign of poor performance, but there is a correlation between those without an education degree and those who leave the profession.

Peterson’s bill is scheduled for a vote in the House Education Committee at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

What does it take to become a teacher in Utah?

To become a teacher in Utah, Teach Utah lists the following requirements:

  • “Hold a bachelor’s degree (or higher) from an accredited institution.”
  • Complete the application form and pay the $75 application fee.”
  • Provide original official copies of all college/university transcript.
  • Successfully complete a state-approved teacher preparation program.”
  • Successfully complete all required Praxis II exams.
  • Verify they have applied for a background check.”

Simone Seikaly contributed to this story.

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Utah student teachers work a full semester without pay. Now they might be getting a stipend.