Written by Sarah Shelley | Content Development Specialist

University of the Cumberlands has established an agreement with Kentucky school districts to offer an Option 9 program.

University of the Cumberlands has established an agreement with two Kentucky school districts to offer an Option 9 program for aspiring Kentucky educators. Whitley County Schools will focus on recent graduates who have completed courses in the Teaching and Learning dual credit pathway and are now working as instructional assistants in the Whitley County Schools. Lincoln County Schools will focus on their current instructional assistants wishing to complete a bachelor’s degree and earn teacher certification. Both programs were approved by EPSB on October 10, 2022.

University of the Cumberlands is currently the only university in Kentucky offering EPSB-approved Option 9 programming. This alternative route is available to both in-seat and online Cumberlands students. Cumberlands offers programs in early interdisciplinary education, elementary education, and middle school education.

For more information or to start the enrollment process, contact ucoadm [at] ucumberlands.edu (ucoadm[at]ucumberlands[dot]edu) or call 606.539.4372.

Option 9, an amendment to KRS 161.048 added through the passing of House Bill 277, is an expedited alternative route to obtaining a teaching certification. The route was approved by the EPSB (Education Professional Standards Board) on July 11, 2022. Through Option 9, aspiring educators in Kentucky will be able to complete both their initial teaching certification and a bachelor’s degree within three school years. Students will be employed within the participating school district to gain work experience while simultaneously attending classes at a college or university.

While education students at Cumberlands are completing coursework, they will have the opportunity to immediately put their learning into practice as an instructional assistant in a classroom, receive mentorship from experienced teachers in the district, and complete their bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate, all in only three years. A list of Cumberlands’ education programs can be viewed at www.ucumberlands.edu/academics.

Prior to this expedited alternative route, education students often spent 3-4 years completing coursework and classroom observation hours in addition to spending a semester student-teaching, meaning it took an average of 4.5-5.5 years to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certification. Through Option 9, it will only take three years.

This new route is available to candidates who have not previously obtained a bachelor’s degree. According to a press release by Kentucky Teacher, a publication of the Kentucky Department of Education, “All candidates still will be required to meet the admission requirements for an undergraduate initial certification educator preparation program and be enrolled in the program throughout. The partnering district will assist the Option 9 candidate in meeting the field experience hours during the first two years of employment. In the third year of employment, the candidate is required to be placed in a setting that is consistent with the certification sought.”1

To learn more about Whitley County and Lincoln County school districts, visit their district website. For more information about University of the Cumberlands, visit www.ucumberlands.edu.