Backlog of teacher applicants waiting certification as school districts struggle to hire

The teacher shortage in America has hit crisis levels, as thousands of potential educators in Washington state are awaiting certification. Local district sources tell KIRO-7 that the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has a capacity issue, arguing that the state agency isn’t staffed appropriately and needs to reallocate resources.

There are roughly 3,700 applicants in the pipeline right now, educators who are ready and willing to teach. But they may not get their certification in the time for the fall semester.

KIRO 7′s Lauren Donovan obtained an email correspondence between a teaching applicant and OSPI’s Professional Certification Customer Service Team. It reads in part, “The Professional Certification Office is currently experiencing an unprecedented number of calls and emails.”

Cindy Rockholt is OSPI’s Assistant Superintendent of Educator Growth and Development. Part of Rockholt’s job is to oversee the certification process.

“The number of certificates we’re processing right now are not that different than the number processed last year and the year before,” said Rockholt.

According to the assistant superintendent, the summer days between June 30 when certificates expire and the start of fall classes is what they call “crunchtime.”

“We have the most applications coming in and the issue to renew certificates is the greatest,” said Rockholt.

The email also states: “We know that some of you are worried that you will not receive your certification renewals in order to start work in the fall.”

Rockholt says not just anyone can approve teaching applications. The state has a team of eight. That’s eight people processing the backlog of 3,700 applications this week. She says the office is looking to hire a ninth member.