Bridge to Bachelors
Rural school districts are finding it increasingly difficult to find and keep quality teachers. In an effort to enable these districts to “grow their own,” NEFEC has partnered with the University of Florida to provide a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education Sciences. This 60-hour, online program of study would provide paraprofessionals who currently have an Associate of Arts or Associate of Sciences degree to earn a bachelor’s degree that would lead to eligibility for teacher certification.
This UF/NEFEC partnership is an especially promising concept for rural districts because these paraprofessionals have already shown their commitment to education and are established members of their communities, schools, and children’s lives. As existing district employees, they are more likely to remain within that district’s school system as a teacher. A recent survey of NEFEC paraprofessionals found that over 70% of them want to become teachers but are constrained by limits on time, cost, or both. This program would typically span 7 semesters, be offered at a much reduced price, and allow participants to earn credit for practicum experiences using their current job responsibilities.