LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Wisconsin has been seeing a teacher shortage, as not enough students have been enrolling for bachelors programs in teaching.
But when it comes to master's degrees, the numbers show different results.
If you ask some teachers in the area why they're pursuing a masters degree in education, you'd a get a common answer.
"Well as a teacher I think it's important to be a constant learner."
"Part of wanting to become a teacher, I've always been a lifelong learner."
Viterbo's director of arts in education Susan Hughes says 140 students graduating in the masters program this year, is significant compared to previous years.
"Around 2011 we took a real dip downward and our lowest was 82."
Hughes says this was in part because of Wisconsin's legislation called Act 10, which stripped collective bargaining rights for public sector union employees, including teachers.
But Hughes says masters degrees in education have increased since then.
"For the districts who still do honor the masters degree as a bump on the pay scale that is certainly an aspect of it, we certainly hope and believe that it's the professional development that educators crave once they're in the field in practice."
That professional development is what pushed Viterbo masters graduate Megan Hellmann to continue teaching.
"Teachers are being held more and more accountable for what we are doing in the classroom and what we are sharing with the kids, and I think part of that accountability, is as we challenge our students to be lifelong learners and meet more and more standards, we can set the examples ourselves by looking for ways to continue to challenge and grow in the educational field."
Jessica Frederickson, who will go on to continue teaching in a women's prison, says the higher the accomplishment, the bigger the reward.
"As a regular classroom teacher I didn't have that flexibility which has been really empowering for me because I feel like I'm able to help those individuals on a higher level."
UWL says they've seen a stable number of under-grads in that program.
They also say they have a 98 percent job placement rate upon graduation in education.
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