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Report Reveals Truth About the ‘Teacher Shortage Crisis’

Report Reveals Truth About the ‘Teacher Shortage Crisis’

Year after year, judging based on headlines alone, it seems that the teacher shortage on a national level is getting worse.

A recently released paper from The Center for Public Education, however, exposes many myths behind the phenomenon and provides some hard truths. In doing so, it makes recommendations for states and districts going forward.

According to the paper, Fixing the Holes in the Teacher Pipeline: An Overview of Teacher Shortages, the fact of the matter is that a lack of teachers entering the profession isn’t the problem.

"At the national level it appears the current supply of teachers is enough to meet demand. The enrollment drop off in teacher preparation programs is being offset by higher rates of completion and lower attrition rates among new teachers. In addition, the number of schools reporting vacancies has dropped significantly. Yet this is likely small consolation to the many states and districts struggling to staff their schools,” the report says.

"The challenge may not be finding more teachers. Rather we may need to be more strategic in getting the right teachers with the right qualifications to where they are most needed.”

The report provides suggestions on how to address the current shortage by improving preparation programs, adopting better recruitment tools, and working to increase retention rates.

Some of the reports suggestions include raising admission standards for teacher prep programs to curate better teaching candidates, utilizing student loan forgiveness programs as a recruitment tool, and developing strong and effective administration in schools to increase retention rates.

Further, the report supports investment into year-long mentorship programs that provide new teachers with the guidance and support they need.

“Beginning teachers require even more support in their early years. Providing novices the benefit of strong mentors increases the likelihood they will be better teachers and stay in the profession,” the report said.

Finally, the report notes that since teacher shortages are primarily a local problem, school districts to take advantages of partnerships that will help them succeed, such as a partnership with a nearby college or university.

"It’s not at all unusual for school districts to hire a large share of its teachers from one or two universities. According to Sharon Robinson, president of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, most teachers, in fact, teach within 30 miles of where they grew up or went to college. Collaboration between the school district and its supplier college of education only makes sense.”

The report ends by turning its attention to school boards.

"School boards have a responsibility to make sure students have access to effective teachers in every class who have the relevant skills for their assignment. This means paying attention to quality as well as quantity.”

Read the full report.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

5/10/2016

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