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5 Ways to address the teacher shortage now

By: Caroline Wynne Date: September 4, 2015

Teacher And Pupils In High School Science Class

Across the country, school districts are struggling with shortages of teachers, particularly in math, science, special education, and bilingual education – a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.

Nationally, the number of people entering teacher preparation programs dropped by 30 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to federal data. As the economy has recovered, college graduates have more employment options with better pay and a more glamorous image, like in a rebounding technology sector.

Some say people are tentative to go into education with the reputation of low pay and high expectations causing less teachers in the pipeline.

While there is a bigger question looming regarding how we supply the pipeline, train, and place teachers, what can schools do in the meantime to fill these back to school teacher shortages?

  1. Administrators can leverage substitute teachers or teacher assistants by promoting lateral entry and supporting their efforts in terms of pedagogy, classroom strategies, and gaining full licensure.
  2. Schools can hire candidates in the process of receiving their degree and teaching credentials. Although, this may not be ideal, many districts are taking this approach, particularly in California where the teacher shortage is especially high.
  3. ASCD recommends administrators to “grow their own teachers” by encouraging local paraprofessionals and talented former graduates to consider teaching as a full-time job and help support them in getting certified.
  4. Administrators can work to create more supportive environments for educators, and during the recruiting process encourage candidates to visit the school to see for themselves.
  5. Administrators can put more time, energy and money into the hiring process – resources that might otherwise go towards students’ instruction, teacher training, and observations.

There is no easy answer to solving the teacher shortage we’re currently facing; however, there are ways schools can minimize the problem in the interim. In order for the teacher shortage not to have a lasting impact on student achievement, it’s critical that we find ways to be proactive in building the teacher pipeline.