Oklahoma Provides Stipends to Student Teachers to Ease Staffing Shortages

The Oklahoma State Department of Education is working with colleges of education in universities across Oklahoma to compensate pre-service teaching candidates for their work as student teachers. Approximately $12.7 million will be used to pay a stipend to 1,300 student teachers each year for the next three years (3,900 student teachers total). Student teachers will receive $3,250. Half of the stipend funds will be paid no later than the first week of student teaching. The remainder will be paid out upon completion of student teaching and signing a contract to teach in an Oklahoma public school.

We are spotlighting this effort because states across the country are struggling with staffing shortages. Innovative approaches like paying student teachers should be considered as they help remove an important barrier to entry, especially for students without financial support. Many teacher candidates cannot student-teach and hold an additional job at the same time. Moreover, research cited by the state education agency suggests that this approach may help ensure incoming teachers are better prepared and more likely to become full-time teachers.

Reviewer Analysis

The Education Trust

This aligns with many of Ed Trust’s recommendations, including to pay student teachers to help diversify the workforce and to train staff to provide support for students to address unfinished learning. From an equity perspective, the program should prioritize student teachers serving in high-needs schools or in schools that serve a high-population of students of color or students from low-income backgrounds or include incentives for student teachers to teach in these settings during their training or full-time after completing programming.


This idea targets a longstanding challenge with the early stages of the teacher pipeline: making student teaching an unpaid internship. Oklahoma is using funds appropriately here to incentivize program completion and allow preservice educators the opportunity to afford to prioritize their student teaching.

The Rural Alliance

We are encouraged by OSDE stepping out of a historical box and challenging traditional thinking in teacher preparation.

Leslie Villegas

More information is needed to understand whether/how student teachers specializing in EL education will be intentionally included in these efforts.

New Leaders

This is an innovative potential solution to addressing teacher shortages that also incentivizes and acknowledges the experience of new teachers.

The Bush Center

This is a smart policy given that OK has low teacher pay relative to other states. This feels more like a band aid than a systemic solution given that it is time bound.

National Parents Union

We like this idea but have concerns about the diversity in the pool of candidates for this endeavor. Will there be a clear decision on ensuring representation on the needs of the current student population?

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