A teacher shortage has been predicted for many years. Once the Great Recession began recovering, districts overcame budget cuts and layoffs and started hiring again. However, many school districts were surprised to find that they had great difficulty hiring qualified teachers. It is especially difficult for districts to find teachers that specialize in science, mathematics, bilingual education, English language development and special education.
There are several different reasons why our nation may be experiencing a teacher shortage.
- In Demand – After many years of enrollments declining, the demand for teachers increased after the Great Recession.
- Hiring Trends – The 2017 and 2018 projections anticipate that annual hires will be around 300,000 teachers per year.
- Enrollment Predictions – The National Center for Education Statistics is predicting that the school population will increase by 3 million in the next decade.
- Reinstated Programs – Many programs were reduced or cut during the Great Recession. Districts are now reinstating these programs, which are anticipated to generate an additional 145,000 new teacher hires.
- Student-Teacher Ratios – Districts are also looking to reduce the average student-teacher ratios, which are currently at 16-to-1, but were around 15.3-to-1 before the Great Recession.
- Teacher Education Enrollments – Between 2009 and 2014, teacher college education enrollments dropped from 691,000 to 451,000. This was a 35% reduction, which equals approximately 240,000 professional teaching positions.
- Exit Ratios – Only one-third of teachers that leave teaching before the age of retirement will return to this profession.
- High-Poverty Schools – Schools that have higher-than-average poverty levels are at a risk of losing teachers.
Some key points factor into the above statistics. For example, if teachers are not adequately prepared when they enter their teaching careers, the rate of turnover is significantly higher. This can add valuable costs to the replacement process and can contribute to decreases in overall student achievement.
Long-term solutions to help boost the teacher workforce include having recruitment and retention strategies in place. This will help assist in creating a stronger workforce and prioritize student learning.
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