Neag School Sees Increase in Enrollment, Diversity of Students in Teacher Education Programs

Since 2017, the number of students of color has more than doubled in the Neag School's Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates and increased by 33% in the Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s Teacher Education Program.

A student teacher reads with students

Tracey-Ann Lafayette ’15 (ED), ’16 MA, ’22 6th Year reads with second graders at Verplanck Elementary in Manchester. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Education unions have sounded the alarm about the number of teaching vacancies in districts across Connecticut, just as schools prepare for a new academic year. While the U.S. does not track detailed data about national employment trends in the profession, the Connecticut Education Association has identified several educator certification shortage areas for the 2022-2023 school year and a 2019 report by The Center for American Progress found that enrollment in teacher preparation programs in Connecticut declined by more than 40% from 2010 to 2018.

UConn’s Neag School of Education is starting to see signs of hope, however, that will help mitigate the shortages.

Total student enrollment in its Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates has returned to pre-pandemic levels – in fact it has increased by about 3% from 2017 to 2022 – and the total number of students of color who are enrolled in that program has increased 111% over the same time period. The 11-month, full-time program is designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree and wish to earn their teacher certification in a specific subject area. It operates out of UConn’s four regional campuses: Avery Point, Downtown Hartford, Stamford, and Waterbury.

The Neag School’s Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s Teacher Education Program has also seen increases in both the total number of admitted students (up 12.4%) and the number of admitted students of color (up 33%) since 2017. The five-year program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in education, followed by one year of graduate-level professional education leading to a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction or educational psychology. 

“There is no denying that it is a stressful time to be an educator, whether in the classroom or an administration office,” says Neag School of Education Dean Jason Irizarry. “Yet, it is inspiring and encouraging to see this amount of interest in our teacher education programs. This is a step in the right direction that will have a positive impact in schools across the state and nation.” 

While both programs did see dips in enrollment in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, they have since rebounded and surpassed their 2017 levels.  

“The pandemic provided an opportunity for us to implement some diverse outreach that we had not previously tried and allowed us to reach a more diverse range of students,” says Niralee Patel-Lye, who is an assistant clinical professor and associate director of teacher education at the Neag School. “Our partnerships and outreach with diverse districts across the state are appealing to students, especially with our recent expansion to the Stamford campus. We are partnering more closely with districts, especially the districts where our four regional campuses are located.” 

Enrollment data for the Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates is as follows: 

  2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total enrollment 105 92 98 89 102 108
Total students of color 18 13 32 21 30 38

The admitted students data for the Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s Teacher Education Program is as follows: 

  2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total admitted students 121 130 136 115 131 136
Total admitted students of color 33 32 39 29 49 44

“We are thrilled the Neag School is attracting a steady stream of new teacher candidates and finding success in recruiting and supporting teacher candidates of color,” Irizarry says.

To learn more about the Neag School of Education’s Teacher Education programs, visit Follow the Neag School on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.