Two new reports suggest that competition for qualified teachers is heating up and that school systems may need to devote more attention to teacher-recruitment and -development programs in order to stem shortages.
In a draft report on educator supply and demand released last month, the American Association for Employment in Education highlights a slight upward trend in demand for teachers in 2004, compared with a slight downward trend over the previous two years.
Based on survey responses from education-school deans and career-center officers, the AAEE found that of 64 fields tracked—including some in school administration and social services—half reported shortages. “Considerable” shortages were reported in eight fields, largely in special education and mathematics, compared with just one in 2003. Science, bilingual education, Spanish, and English as a second language were also seen to be facing shortages.
A long-term trend of a slight surplus of elementary education teachers continued, the report says, but the supply of such teachers has stabilized. No fields were reported to have a considerable surplus of teachers.
The AAEE also notes that the No Child Left Behind Act’s “highly qualified” teacher requirement has caused new concern for schools about how to fill shortage positions.
‘Crisis’ in California
In more dire language, a report on California’s teaching force released last week by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning projects that the state could soon face shortages of crisis proportions if it does not direct more resources to recruitment programs.
While California has made some progress in reducing the numbers of underprepared teachers working it its schools over the past two years, the report says, it still had to issue nearly 20,000 provisional teaching permits last year to fill vacancies—a large proportion of them in schools with high percentages of poor or minority students. At the same time, CFTL projects that the “demand for new teachers will go back up and continue to rise over the next decade as record numbers of veteran teachers retire.”
Those trends are playing out against significant cutbacks in state-funded recruitment and development efforts prompted by the state’s ongoing budget crisis, the report states. Without a change of course, CFTL warns, California’s students are likely to be taught by more underprepared teachers even as academic demands are rising.
While the report focuses on the state’s role in boosting recruitment, regional efforts are also essential, according to Patrick Shields, director of the Center on Education and Policy with SRI International, the organization that conducted the research for CFTL’s report. In an interview with edweek.org, Mr. Shields emphasized the potential of regional coalitions of stakeholder institutions—including school districts, education schools, and chambers of commerce—to develop coordinated strategies to address area-specific problems in the teacher pipeline.
Mr. Shields also suggested that such coalitions make their work public in order to raise consciousness of the staffing issues facing local schools.
—Compiled from Education Week reports