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Educator Preparation ‘Grow Your Own’ Programs


New Opportunity: Praxis Fee Voucher for Select Subject Area Exams

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is pleased to announce that individuals seeking an initial or standard credential in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, or Special Education, may receive a Praxis Fee Voucher to cover the cost of the Praxis II subject area content exam. To qualify, all teachers must be currently employed by a DC local educational agency (LEA) and complete the OSSE Praxis Voucher Application. Upon approval of your application, you will receive an email to the address listed in your application, containing a unique Praxis Exam Voucher Code. Once you have received your passing exam scores, submit, or update your OSSE application for an OSSE teaching credential within 30 calendar days.

Award Announcement

As of April 29, 2022, the fiscal year 2022 (FY22) Educator Preparation ‘Grow Your Own’ program grant (GYO) has concluded. The following universities have been named grantees for funds available through Sep. 30, 2022:

  • American University – serving the Baccalaureate Pathway
  • Relay Graduate School of Education – serving the Paraprofessional Pathway

Each university grantee will be recruiting and enrolling program participants effective immediately, to begin their respective program in summer 2022.


Under the Teacher Preparation Emergency Act of 2021, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is required to award at least two grants to accredited colleges or universities with physical campuses in the District of Columbia. These grants may be up to five-year competitive grants that combined will total no less than $550,000 per year. The District of Columbia’s Education Preparation Providers (EPPs) that receive these grant funds shall use them to support the implementation of a GYO teacher preparation program. The purpose of these funds is to strengthen the teacher pipeline by preparing local community members (e.g., paraprofessionals, non-certified school staff and high school students) to enter the teaching profession and teach in their communities.


Baccalaureate Pathway

The American University School of Education (AU SOE) will serve District of Columbia high school students and graduates through dual enrollment courses and their Teacher Pipeline Project which results in a bachelor's degree in education and an OSSE license. For more information, please visit the AU SOE website.

Paraprofessional Pathway

The Relay Graduate School of Education (GSE) will serve District of Columbia paraprofessionals currently employed by public and public charter schools in the District through a two-year residency program resulting in a master of arts in teaching (MAT) and an OSSE license. For more information, please visit the Relay GSE website.

Why Grow Your Own? Why Now?

As the state agency responsible for both pre-K through grade 12 education and early childhood education programs, OSSE is uniquely positioned to support initiatives aimed to elevate the teaching profession in the District of Columbia by developing high-quality education and training courses at the high school level. This work is done by facilitating pathways for paraprofessionals employed by DC local educational agencies (LEAs) by creating teacher pipelines to increase the pool and diversity of DC’s future classroom leaders. GYO Programs are an approach to developing a pipeline of educator candidates to meet specific workforce needs (Cushing, 2019). Additionally, there are strong connections between GYO programs and effectively addressing teacher shortages in high-need areas and subjects (Jessen, Fairman, Fallona, & Johnson, 2020; PESB, 2016).

GYO programs are most effective at targeting specific populations to enter certain subject areas when they:

  • Offer financial aid (i.e., loan forgiveness and scholarships) to candidates completing GYO programs (PESB, 2016);
  • Establish systems for candidates to receive continuous coaching and mentoring from entrance into the GYO program through early service (Texas Comprehensive Center, 2018; Carver-Thomas, 2018) and
  • Offer ongoing coaching and mentoring, which is particularly important for attracting candidates of color into GYO programs and retaining personnel of color once they exit the program (OSEP Summit Attract Panel, 2020).

The grant program objectives are for OSSE to establish, in collaboration with stakeholders, a dual pathway educator preparation ‘Grow Your Own’ program for the purpose of educating, training, and providing financial support to District of Columbia residents who are public high school dual enrollment students, public high school graduates and currently employed District paraprofessionals to become licensed teachers at District public and public charter schools.

District Teacher Workforce Analysis

In spring 2022, OSSE released the comprehensive DC Educator Workforce Report, which includes data from all DC LEAs collected under the Faculty and Staff Data Collection. The data below provide additional context for the OSSE Educator Preparation ‘Grow Your Own’ Program.

DC Education Landscape: SY 2021-22

Citywide Vacancies Filled by SY 2019-20 EPP Completers by Subject Area, SY 2020-21

Paraprofessional Movement in DC from SY 2020-21 to SY 2021-22

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Contact Information

For more information about the OSSE Educator Preparation ‘Grow Your Own’ Program Competitive Grant, please contact:

Sean Elliott | Grant Specialist, ‘Grow Your Own’ Programs | Division of Teaching and Learning

Office: (202) 741-0267 | Email: [email protected]