State Education Professional Standards Board approves alternative certification — and four NKY districts are participating

The Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) met virtually to approve numerous Option 9 certification pathways.

Option 9 is a new alternative route to certification created by the Kentucky General Assembly during its 2022 session with the passage of House Bill 277. It allows a person to complete a bachelor’s degree and initial teacher certification in three years while working in a non-teaching position in a school district.
The EPSB is responsible for establishing performance standards for educator preparation programs and practitioners, accrediting educator preparation providers and approving preparation programs, selecting assessments for teachers and administrators, and overseeing educators’ professional certificates.

Option 9 is the only alternative route that does not require a bachelor’s degree for admission into the teacher preparation programs. Candidates in this program must work in a school district as a classified employee while completing it. Upon completing their bachelor’s degree and the assessment requirements, they will receive initial teacher certification.

Though this route requires a candidate to be employed in a classified position while completing coursework, it does not allow the candidate to serve as a teacher while enrolled in the certification route. The Option 9 alternative route only provides for initial certification once the candidate completes their bachelor’s degree and certification assessments.

The new programs approved by EPSB include partnerships with institutions in districts across Kentucky:

• Barren County Schools and University of the Cumberlands (UC);
• Boone County Schools and Northern Kentucky University (NKU);
• Bullitt County Schools and UC;
• Caldwell County Schools and UC;
• Carroll County Schools and Campbellsville University (CU);
• Carroll County Schools and NKU;
• Covington Independent Schools and NKU;
• Dawson Springs Independent Schools and UC;
• Elizabethtown Independent Schools and UC;
• Erlanger-Elsmere Independent Schools and NKU;
• Floyd County Schools and UC;
• Frankfort Independent Schools and UC;
• Graves County Schools and CU;
• Graves County Schools and UC;
• Greenup County Schools and UC;
• Harrison County Schools and Midway University (MU);
• Hart County Schools and UC;
• Henry County Schools and MU;
• Jefferson County Schools and the University of Louisville (U of L);
• Kenton County Schools and NKU;
• Lee County Schools and UC;
• Magoffin County Schools and UC;
• McClean County Schools and UC;
• Metcalfe County Schools and UC;
• Nelson County Schools and Eastern Kentucky University;
• Nelson County Schools and UC; 
• Nelson County Schools and UofL;
• Newport Independent Schools and NKU;
• Ohio County Schools and UC;
• Pulaski County Schools and MU;
• Spencer County Schools and MU;
• Trimble County Schools and MU; and
• Trimble County Schools and UC.

The programs were approved along with other items, including an emergency regulation for a new Interim Certificate created by House Bill 319, but not without concern.

Corinne Murphy, chair of Western Kentucky University’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, said adding certification options does not solve major issues exacerbating teacher shortages across the state.

“We seem to be trending towards finding small, minute pools of people that we think will solve our problems in teacher shortages,” she said. “We are creating boutique options and certificates and emergencies so that we can solve individualistic challenges and it is not good for our system as a whole.”

“I appreciate the spirit in which everyone is attempting to do all of the things to fix all of the problems that we have within our teacher certification structure, but I can’t say that yet another emergency option is good for our students, our district staff or our licensure staff.”

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