- Since enrollment in teacher education programs has dropped 35% between 2009 and 2014, and school districts are feeling the effects of having fewer new teachers, leaders are finding one-size-fits all solutions don’t work, and they need to find answers that succeed most in their areas, District Administration reports.
- Polk County Schools in Florida has a launched a new initiative called Establishing Leaders in Teacher Education, which allows high school sophomores to start taking teacher education courses and earn associate degrees with their high school diplomas, setting them on a pathway to completing their bachelor’s degrees at a nearby college and returning to teach in the district.
- In Mississippi, where only 603 people applied for a teaching license in 2017 compared to 7,620 in 2007, William Carey College is working with more than a dozen school districts to help teaching assistants complete their educations at a steep discount, help some students finish their college degrees on community college campuses or help professionals earn alternative teacher certifications for free.
The 2018 PowerSchool Talent Index reveals that the demand for teachers increased 14% in 2017 and that 51% of school districts surveyed are experiencing a teacher shortage. In addition, 84% of respondents surveyed said attracting teacher candidates is one their district’s top three priorities.
Clearly, attracting new teachers is a nationwide concern, though the specific shortages may vary from state to state. While some school districts are looking at grow-your-own teacher programs, such as the one beginning in Polk County, other school districts are looking to increase incentives by offering perks such as cash or housing subsidies. Converting paraprofessionals into teachers is another popular option, especially as they already have connections to a school. And Arkansas is seeing growth in the number of teachers because of a concerted effort to promote the profession.
Colleges and universities are also looking for ways to get people to teach. Some are changing their approaches to better prepare students for multi-cultural classrooms and are shifting away from standardized exams and in the direction of more performance-based assessments. As colleges and school districts form stronger partnerships to address the issue, and states work to make teaching more attractive, more people may be coaxed back into the teaching profession.