Applications now open for 2021 ESD-U cohort; non-degree holders encouraged to submit info

Figuring out the steps to becoming a certified teacher can be a confusing or overwhelming process, and it can feel inaccessible for some. Sensing the need in Southwest Washington for a streamlined, more affordable option for individuals seeking to become teachers, ESD 112 started a program called ESD-U in 2018. ESD-U is currently in the middle of its second year of operation and has begun accepting applications for its third cohort, which will begin training in July 2020.

ESD-U offers alternative routes to teacher certification for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree and want to become a certified teacher; currently certified teachers who are seeking to add an endorsement in an identified shortage area; and individuals seeking a career change to become a teacher after working in a different industry. Shortage areas include elementary education, special education, reading, and English language learners.

New this year, ESD-U is collecting information from individuals who have not started or completed a bachelor’s degree program and are interested in teaching as a profession. While the 2020-2021 cohort is only open for degree holders, ESD-U is hopeful that in future cohorts, they will be able to partner with local colleges to offer a pathway to teacher certification for individuals still working on their college degree. If this is the sort of pathway you are interested in, or you have other questions about ESD-U, please fill out the ESD candidate interest survey.

Meeting the needs of Southwest Washington school districts

In order to ensure ESD-U is working to meet the unique needs of school districts in the ESD 112 region, the program conducted a needs assessment throughout the region to determine recruitment priorities for ESD-U. The assessment indicated high levels of need in the following areas:

  • Special education teachers
  • Teachers in rural and remote communities in SW Washington
  • Bilingual teachers
  • STEM teachers
  • Nine districts in Clark and Cowlitz Counties serving more than 85,000 students indicated that diversification of workforce is an important workforce initiative

Ready to fill out an application or still want more info?

There are two different application processes for ESD-U, depending on your current level of qualifications. Both can be accessed on the ESD-U website.

  1. ESD-U Route 2/3/4 Application Materials – for paraeducators, career changers, emergency substitutes & conditionally certified teachers
  2. ESD-U Retooling Application Materials – for currently certified teachers seeking to add an endorsement

If you aren’t sure where to start or want more information before filling out an application, the ESD-U Application Checklist may be helpful for you. You can also get your questions answered by attending an ESD-U info session, while learning more about the program and the application process from ESD-U staff members.

ESD-U Program Scholarships

For the 2020-2021 cohort, 30 scholarships for up to $5,000 will be available for Route 2, Route 3, and Route 4 candidates through the ESD-U Program grant awarded by Washington’s Professional Educator Standards Board. Scholarship recipient selection for the cohort will be largely informed by the school district high-priority needs listed above. More information about these scholarships will be provided at informational sessions, and throughout the application process.

Applications are due by May 1, 2020. There is no application fee. ESD-U classes will start on July 6, 2020. Full-year class calendar and course descriptions coming to the website soon.

For questions and more information about ESD-U, contact