Technology Eases Teacher Recruitment for School Districts
The New Haven Unified School District in California was short a hard-to-find science teacher just weeks before school was to open last summer.
But thanks to its savvy use of technology to recruit teachers, the perfect candidate found the district's World Wide Web site, filled out an electronic application, spoke to administrators over the phone, faxed in her references, and sat through a video interview at a Kinko's printing store near her home in Seattle.
In just two days, she was hired.
"When she got here for her orientation, she was just starting to receive paper applications from other districts," said Jim O'Laughlin, the associate superintendent for personnel.
New Haven Unified's gain was other districts' loss. In a state where schools are projected to need about 25,000 teachers a year to keep up with class-size reductions and enrollment growth, the competition for qualified teachers is intense.
"None of it is sophisticated technology," Mr. O'Laughlin said of the recruitment system the district is using. "Frankly, everybody could be doing it if they really pursued it."
While the use of electronic tools is far from common in teacher recruitment, it's likely to increase, experts say. Advocates of reform in the profession are urging states and districts to step up their use of technology to streamline their often haphazard efforts to find new teachers.
The National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, in its 1996 report, praised New Haven Unified's efforts and recommended that other districts shape up their recruitment and hiring practices.
'Where the Candidates Are'
"The biggest challenge in the electronic age is districts' getting to where the candidates are," said Charles Marshall, the executive director of the American Association for Employment in Education, based in Evanston, Ill. "A lot of candidates are so attuned to using the [Internet] and doing their college work on it--if they don't find it on the Net, it doesn't exist."
U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley announced last month that the Education Department was creating a national job bank and clearinghouse for teacher recruitment. The job bank will provide teachers with information on vacancies nationwide and link districts to a potential pool of new hires. The clearinghouse will offer a searchable database of information on financial aid, teacher education programs, licensure requirements, and local contacts for aspiring teachers.
In California, the California Center for Teaching Careers, or CalTeach, runs an interactive recruitment network by which people interested in teaching can find information about jobs, and districts can advertise their positions.
CalTeach, created in 1997 by then-Gov. Pete Wilson and the legislature and run by the California State University system, also began a series of public-service announcements in January to help recruit teachers.
Oklahoma's state regents for higher education are working on an interactive, electronic job service that will enable licensed teachers to post their resumes and districts to advertise job openings. The site is expected to go online in the fall.
Vol. 18, Issue 26, Page 10