Predicting and preventing teacher shortages through data analysis allows schools and states to target resources and efforts to areas where teachers are most in need, said speakers during a webinar hosted by the Institute of Education Sciences and Regional Educational Laboratory Central Thursday.
Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, for example, uses a data-based dashboard to help districts and teacher preparation programs put resources toward effective teacher recruitment and retention strategies, said Paul Katnik, assistant commissioner of Missouri DESE.
As districts face teacher pipeline challenges that began before the pandemic and will likely be exacerbated because of hardships educators are facing during the public health crisis, it will be important for school systems to work proactively to make the teaching profession attractive, the speakers said.
Missouri’s teacher predictor model uses student enrollment and teacher assignment data from recent academic years to make predictions about future educator workforce needs. Those data figures are used to calculate predicted student enrollment and predicted teacher workforce, including number of employed teachers, teachers who will leave the field, new hires and teachers who are not appropriately certified.
The statistics are broken down for each region in the state, according to a report from IES. The state's online dashboard, however, is not publicly available.
Katnik said the Missouri data showed concerning declines in the teacher workforce, particularly with new teachers with three to five years of experience leaving the profession. Using that information helps with recruitment strategies, Katnik added.
“We wanted to be more precise than just say, 'Hey, we need people. We need lots of people so be a teacher.’ We really wanted to add kind of an element of intentionality to it,” Katnik said.
The data led DESE to work with district and teacher preparation programs on recruitment efforts, such as encouraging high school students to consider careers in education and working with colleges to offer certain teacher certification programs, said Katnik and Beth Kania-Gosche, professor of Teacher Education and Certification at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
The data also helped districts target teacher retention efforts, such as professional development for those working in subject areas with teacher shortages, such as math, science and special education.
Katnik and Kania-Gosche said teacher supply and demand data is also useful for guiding decisions around funding for teacher recruitment and retention efforts, particularly now as federal stimulus funding may be directed at these efforts.
According to an Education Commission of the States information collection in 2019, all but eight states had published state-specific teacher shortage data within the past five years.