On Teacher Shortages: No Shortage of Data or Teachers Available to Help


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This guest post comes from Ellen Sherratt, vice president for policy and research at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Views expressed in guest posts are those of the author.

Teacher shortages are not a new challenge. One often overlooked root cause behind the ongoing recurrence of teacher shortage challenges is the lack of clarity in the data and, thus, incoherence in the dialogue surrounding the issue. Without a compelling depiction of the problem, it is hard to muster the political will to invest in sometimes expensive solutions, like competitive teacher pay, manageable workloads or high-quality instructional supports.

Education Commission of the States has done a huge favor for the field in compiling a 50-State Comparison of teacher recruitment and retention data and policies to bring coherence to the national dialogue. How can policy leaders best ensure the wealth of data provided informs decision-making at scale and closes the gap between teacher supply and demand? Here are three steps to move the needle:

  • Review Education Commission of the States’ data with a task force of stakeholders — including parents, business and civic leaders, researchers and National Board Certified teachers. Take an honest look at the scope of your local teacher shortage challenges to build a shared understanding among the powers that be in your state.
  • Engage stakeholders in identifying the root causes behind your teacher shortage challenges and the solutions that will most directly address them.
  • Collaboratively build political will for the solutions identified, drawing upon data and champions.

How can board-certified teachers help? Teams of board-certified teachers have been tackling teacher shortages and the related issue of teacher diversity in states across the country. Board-certified teachers in Louisiana, South Carolina, Virginia and elsewhere have been analyzing workforce data and convening stakeholders in advocacy efforts. Recently, board-certified teachers launched Teachers 2020, a campaign to lift educator voice and solicit policy leader support for an elevated teaching profession. (If you are interested in endorsing the National Board’s Bill of Rights for the Teaching Profession, add your signature here.)

These expert teachers are ready to support each of the three steps above. What’s more? The National Board has identified more than 1,000 board-certified teachers across the country with an interest in helping address recruitment and retention challenges in their states. Why not encourage teachers to drive positive change and take ownership of their own profession?

National Board Certification can be part of the teacher shortage solution nationwide. As shown in this infographic, turnover rates for National Board Certified teachers are four times lower than the average rate; meanwhile, through board certification, policymakers can address common barriers to recruitment and retention by providing:

Per the Education Commission of the States data, 32 states currently provide opportunities for additional pay for teachers who obtain National Board Certification, with 14 states offering higher compensation for teachers who work in shortage subject areas and/or underserved schools. Policy leaders can expand access to board certification by considering stakeholder input alongside this model policy language.

Like in the medical field, a teaching profession driven by accomplished, board certified teachers has the power to win the respect of the public and attract and retain top talent.

If you are interested in connecting with a local board-certified teacher to address recruitment and retention in your state, please email me.

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