The influence of a teacher on a child’s life leaves an immeasurable impact. Now is your time.
University of the Cumberlands offers an EPSB-approved Option 9 program. 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.
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, in as little as three years.
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.
Reach out to learn more about the program or submit your application
Option 9 FAQ
Option 9 is a new alternative route to certification created by legislature that allows a candidate to complete a bachelor’s degree and initial teacher certification in a three-year period while working in a non-teaching position in a school district. This is the only alternative route that does not require a bachelor’s degree for admission (KDE (Kentucky Department of Education), 2022). This program is designed to meet the needs of the participating district and may include an emphasis in developing a teacher pipeline for the district's students, improving the numbers of underrepresented populations among the district's workforce, or focusing on increasing the number of teachers with certification areas that are in high demand.
In the Option 9 program, candidates must complete similar requirements as traditional undergraduate education. The difference is that candidates will be employed in a partnering school district working as a paraeducator while they complete their degree and obtain a teaching license.
The district is responsible for the following:
- Employ the candidate in a residency or paraprofessional program within the school district for the duration of the program as long as the candidate is making successful progress in the Option Nine program
- Periodically releasing the candidate to complete required observation hours during the school day
- Ensure the availability of funding for each candidate for the duration of the candidate’s participation in the program as long as the candidate is making successful progress in the Option Nine program
- Ensure at least one (1) year of employment provides hands-on experience in the area in which certification is being sought
- Report mentoring hours yearly when employment recertification is sought from Option 9 Director
- Continue this partnership until the district’s employed candidates for Option 9 certification complete the program or are no longer employed by the district
- If the school district determines to end the partnership, the district shall no longer accept new candidates into the program
The mentoring teacher should have:
- A valid teaching certificate for the grade and subject in which the Option Nine candidate will receive certification;
- At least two (2) years of teaching experience; and
- Time available to provide adequate mentoring to the candidate.
- The school district will be responsible for compensating mentors for their time spent working with the candidate(s).
When selecting mentors, the district will give first preference to a teacher who demonstrates:
- Effective classroom management techniques that promote an environment conducive to learning;
- Best practices for delivery of instruction;
- Knowledge and use of multiple forms of assessment;
- Mastery of the content knowledge or subject matter in which the Option Nine candidate will receive certification;
- Aptitude and ability to contribute to the mentoring and development of a candidate enrolled in the Option Nine program; and
- Creation of a learning environment that values and builds upon the diverse backgrounds of students.
The candidate must complete 50 mentoring hours per year for the first two years. Verification of these hours will be submitted when the candidate recertifies their employment.
Yes. Candidates can be selected by the district and recommended to the university. Candidates must submit employment verification before they are on the Option 9 track here at University of the Cumberlands.
Please notify the Option 9 Director to cancel the partnership. Once the partnership is canceled, the university will no longer accept candidates from the district.
During the Fall or Spring semester before student teaching (the capstone semester), the candidate will be enrolled in EDUC 331 and EDUC 430/432 (for IECE: IECE 431, 434, and 436). These are the candidate’s capstone courses. The candidate will be placed with the cooperating teacher(s) they will student teach under during this year. During this year, those cooperating teacher(s) will serve as the candidate’s mentor(s). Candidates will be required to complete observation hours with trained cooperating teacher(s) during the capstone semester. The district can handle observation hours during the capstone semester one of two ways:
- Release the candidate to complete required observation hours during that semester, but require the candidate to serve as a paraeducator in their current position
- Allow the candidate to work as a paraeducator under the assigned cooperating teacher(s)
During the Fall or Spring semester after the capstone semester, the candidate’s final semester at UC, candidates will student teach under their cooperating teacher(s). Candidates will be required to work exclusively with these cooperating teacher(s) until student teaching is complete.
Yes. The district may select the cooperating teacher(s) according to 16 KAR 5:040 (Section 1). The district must notify the Option 9 Director when the cooperating teacher(s) are selected. The cooperating teacher(s) must be selected before the candidate begins their capstone semester. The Option 9 Director will work with the district to ensure that the cooperating teacher is trained and selected before the beginning of the capstone semester.
During the Fall or Spring semester after the capstone semester, candidates will student teach under their cooperating teacher(s). Candidates will be required to work exclusively with these cooperating teacher(s) until student teaching is complete.
No. The school district is not obligated to hire the candidate after they complete the program.
Please contact Dr. Sheena Lawson (sheena.lawson [at] ucumberlands.edu) for questions about partnerships and the Option 9 program.
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