CLEVELAND, Miss.—Applications to the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Mississippi Teacher Residency (MTR) program are now available for aspiring educators seeking a graduate degree in elementary and special education at select institutions, including Delta State University.
The priority deadline to submit applications is March 15. Any applications submitted after March 15 will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis until all slots are filled. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and either meet the minimum required passing score on the Praxis Core, have a 21 or higher on the ACT/SAT equivalent; or have a 3.0 GPA (60 hours of coursework) and Praxis Content Knowledge Test acceptable scores.
The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) voted in December 2021 to award more than $9.8 million in grant funds to five university educator preparation programs. Those universities are Delta State, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University. The MDE is using American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to cover the grants.
According to MDE, up to 200 individuals can be accepted into this cohort of the MTR program, which seeks to enroll diverse participants. This is an adjustment from the 240 slots previously reported based on university partner eligibility and projections. Tuition and expenses, including testing fees, books and mentor stipends, will be covered for accepted applicants.
The MTR program will include training alongside a mentor teacher, testing support, professional development, ongoing assessment and a commitment to teach in a geographical critical shortage school or district serving low-income children, racial/ethnic minorities and children with disabilities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
When applying, applicants will indicate what university program they want to join and select up to four school district options to work in. Confirmed participating school districts are included in the application and will be updated as needed on the MTR website based on each university’s established process for selecting district partners in geographical critical shortage areas.
All complete applications will be provided to MTR universities to determine candidate eligibility. Eligible applications will then be provided to each candidate’s top-choice MTR partner school districts, which may then opt to interview applicants either in-person or virtually. After interviews are complete, the MDE will conduct a matching process based on information from MTR applicants, universities and school districts. Applicants will be notified of their possible acceptance into the MTR program by May 2022.
MTR is one of the state’s strategies to address the national teacher shortage. An MDE survey to all public school districts in the state from Aug. 21 to Oct. 11, 2021 to assess educator shortage showed there are 3,036 certified teacher vacancies in Mississippi.
MDE’s Office of Teaching and Leading has operated MTR since 2018 to increase the number of qualified teachers entering and remaining in the profession. The project is funded by a $4.1 million grant from the Kellogg Foundation. MTR is part of a statewide strategy to expand and diversify the teacher pipeline, so all students have teachers who are well-prepared, appropriately licensed and can serve as role models.