- Some 22 states passed 41 bills tied to teacher compensation this year, and another 21 states had 118 pieces of legislation pending on the issue, according to the Education Commission of the States, which tracks state education policy. Many of the bills aim to improve teacher salaries, as well as to expand and diversify the education workforce.
- While a handful of states have proposed or already passed legislation increasing teacher pay, others have bills related to loan forgiveness, grow-your-own programs in which districts develop teacher pipelines, and teacher stipends and bonuses. Lawmakers’ attention to recruiting and retaining qualified educators follows years of a growing teacher shortage and a wave of protests prior to the pandemic.
- To better address local teacher shortages, each state school system should maintain a centralized reporting system to track teacher supply and demand trends, according to a report released this month by the National Council on Teacher Quality. Collecting this data could increase local districts’ awareness of teacher talent across their states and guide strategies for filling vacancies, the report said.
States that have proposed or passed legislation increasing or incentivizing schools to increase teacher pay include: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina and South Carolina. Other entities like state boards of education or governors’ offices have proposed raising wages in places like Missouri, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico and Nevada.
The teacher shortage has also gained federal attention. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urged districts in a letter last week to use funds from the American Rescue Plan to increase educator compensation, despite districts’ hesitation toward — and some finance experts’ warnings against — spending short-term federal relief dollars on long-term salary increases.
President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, meanwhile, would set aside $112 million to invest in teacher preparation programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions. However, the legislation this week hit another roadblock after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) refused to vote for the legislation.
These proposals come amid multiple surveys raising alarms of teachers planning to leave the profession early in light of stress, disruptions and potential burnout from COVID-19.
To address teacher shortages, local K-12 leaders need actionable data on teacher supply and demand to help them develop and customize solutions for their workforce needs, the NCTQ report said.
States currently collect more comprehensive data about teacher preparation programs and statistics on certificate earners than they do data about teacher demand, vacancy rates and the number of new hires, according to the report.
In some areas, teacher supply and demand data is collected by a state, but the information is missing key elements, the NCTQ report said. Tennessee, for instance, published data showing the state had 39,252 elementary teachers in 2019 and 39,563 elementary teachers in 2020. The data, however, doesn't say whether only 311 teachers were hired in 2020, or if the number of new hires was larger due to teacher attrition.
Only three states — Colorado, Nebraska and Massachusetts — publish teacher supply and demand data that is disaggregated at both the district and certification levels. Teacher mobility and attrition data can offer localized insights into practices that support retention of effective teachers, the report said.
NCTQ also advises the collection and reporting of other educator labor trends, including credential status, race and gender, years of experience and levels of effectiveness.
"The availability of good state data helps to ensure not only that classrooms are fully staffed, but also a more equitable distribution of teacher talent across the state," the report said