To combat the issue of student shortages and to respond to the increasing demand for reporters who are realtime trained, NCRA has taken a multifaceted hands-on approach to advancing education for court reporters. NCRA's efforts have led to a dramatic improvement, with student enrollment increasing almost 38 percent at NCRA-approved programs after an almost decade-long decline in enrollment.
In an effort to improve the quality of realtime reporter education programs, NCRA has:
- Visited 23 approved and non-approved programs;
- Assisted 38 reporter-training programs with earmarks to seek federal funding for next year's budget; and
- Offered schools direct assistance through NCRA's Education Initiative in the form of curriculum development, teacher / training workshops, and implementing standards.
In addition to offering schools direct assistance, pursuing passage of the Training for Realtime Writers Act has been a top priority. The legislation, which was introduced to the Senate and passed by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee earlier this year, authorizes $80 million in federal spending over four years. The bill (S. 268) has 27 co-sponsors and is expected to be approved by the full Senate shortly. A House version of the bill is pending.
If the act passes, the federal funding for realtime writer student training would benefit not only current students and programs looking to enhance their realtime training capacity, but also veteran reporters, as some schools are using funds for realtime retraining.
Enhancing reporter education
NCRA is also focusing its efforts on researching ways to enhance and strengthen the reporter education system and to strengthen schools. To accomplish this goal, the Reporter Education Commission was formed to capture all relevant information from both within and outside the profession.