- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - One of the poorest counties in West Virginia will soon become the first in the state to welcome Teach For America to fill teaching vacancies, following the approval of alternative teacher certification programs in eight counties.

The West Virginia Board of Education approved the alternative programs during its meeting Wednesday, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported (http://bit.ly/1X3ytvp). McDowell County’s program will begin to bring Teach For America’s services to the rural county in the south of the state.

The alternative certification programs seek to fill teacher vacancies, which McDowell County has had particular issues with, said Monica Beane, executive director of the education department’s Office of Educator Effectiveness and Licensure.

Teach For America generally accepts college graduates - including those without education degrees - trains them for more than a month and gives them a one- to two-week regional orientation before placing them in struggling schools.

McDowell County’s program will require more prerequisites than Teach For America traditionally demands before putting applicants in classrooms, Beane said, including a requirement that those without master’s degrees pass the Praxis I and the Praxis II exams.

The Praxis I evaluates a person’s basic skills in areas like reading and math, while the Praxis II specifically tests the content an applicant wants to teach.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

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