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Questions linger over Indiana's literacy endorsement stipends

Dozens of teachers sit in chairs in a large room, watching a State Board of Education meeting.
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
Educators from around the state spoke out against a new literacy endorsement at the last State Board of Education meeting.

Educators have concerns over new literacy endorsement requirements set to take place over the next few years. One of those concerns involves $1,200 stipends that will be awarded to some educators who receive the endorsement.

Educators can receive the stipends for completing the Keys to Literacy professional development if they have a valid Indiana teaching license for pre-K through sixth grade. That includes instructional coaches, special education teachers and reading interventionists.

Eligible educators should receive the stipends within 90 days of successfully completing the required course.

Keys to Literacy was designed to teach educators about the science of reading and help them implement it into their classrooms. Most pre-K through sixth grade teachers and special education teachers will be required to receive a literacy endorsement from the course after they renew their license in 2027. New teachers will need the endorsement next summer if they are receiving their license for the first time.

However, it has been difficult for educators to enroll in the course due to high demand. Some say they are concerned funding will run out before they complete it.

Carey Dahncke, the executive director of the University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning, encouraged the state to continue to pay for educators to receive training.

“When you put your foot on the accelerator, you also have to have fuel in the tank. Otherwise, you won’t arrive at your destination,” he said. “I encourage not just state leaders, but school leaders too, to figure out how to keep that tank full for educators and continue to make that investment so educators can accomplish the task ahead of them.”

Indiana has invested more than $170 million into literacy with help from the Lilly Endowment. The Indiana Department of Education says the course — and the stipend — will be available to any educator completing the literacy endorsement through June 2025.

However, educators have also expressed frustration over the amount of the stipend. They argue that $1,200 is more than the cost of child care to complete the 80-hour course. Additionally, educators must complete the 80 hours of instruction outside of school hours. Some educators who spoke at a recent State Board of Education meeting said the course will interfere with their second jobs.

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Indiana teacher Ally Langfeldt said the current endorsement requirements are a significant time and financial burden on educators like herself.

“Keep in mind these same teachers have children and other commitments they have to attend in their daily life,” she said.

Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said the IDOE is working to address educator concerns about the new literacy endorsement and stipends.

Kirsten is our education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.

Kirsten the Indiana Public Broadcasting education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.