School & District Management

Are States Tracking Teacher Shortages? Generally, No.

By Liana Loewus — December 14, 2017 2 min read
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Teacher shortages are not a national problem, data show—but they do hit particular regions and subject areas acutely.

And yet pinpointing exactly where teachers are needed has not been a priority for most states, according to a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Just eight states have data systems that track the supply of teachers available and help align that with district hiring needs, the analysis shows. That includes Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

The NCTQ state-by-state analysis, which is released every two years, highlights Maryland’s “teacher staffing report” as a model for other states. That report gathers information on graduates from approved teacher-preparation programs and looks at new hires by subject matter, gender, and ethnicity. “These data help determine teacher shortage areas as well as areas of surplus, and when connected with teacher program data, allow the state to predict areas that may be hard to staff in the future so that the state can take necessary and appropriate action to prevent likely shortages before they occur,” NCTQ writes.

Kate Walsh, president of NCTQ, which publishes ratings of teacher-preparation programs (using a process some say is flawed), has argued for putting more pressure on preservice teachers to get trained in high-need areas. Teacher-preparation programs tend to overproduce graduates with elementary education degrees, and yet many secondary science and special education positions go unfilled. But college of education faculty often balk at the idea of telling students what they can and can’t study.

The analysis also, for the first time, looks at what states are doing to increase diversity in the teaching force.

Nineteen states have taken concrete actions to encourage more people of color to enter teaching.

Prior research has shown that having a teacher of the same race can improve a student’s achievement and motivation. The effects are particularly strong for students of color.

Charts: National Council on Teacher Quality’s 2017 State Teacher Policy Yearbook

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.