Tag Archives: teacher shortage

Addressing the Teacher Shortage: Recruiting Tomorrow’s Teachers Today

It is more than likely that your district has felt the impact of California’s teacher shortage.  By now, the numbers are well known. The 2015-16 school year saw a need for 21,500 new teaching positions, while only 15,000 new teaching credentials are issued per year.  The impending retirement of the baby boom generation (1/3 of California teachers are over the age of 50), coupled with a precipitous drop in the number of students enrolled in teacher preparation programs (a 76% decline from 2001-2014), means that the chronic shortage of qualified STEM teachers has become much worse, and expanded to a shortage in virtually every area of teaching. A full analysis of the causes of the current shortage, as well as recommendations to address the challenges, was released in January by the Learning Policy Institute, and several bills have been introduced in the state legislature to attract more candidates into teaching.  Districts and schools do not need to wait for state action, however, to stop the boom and bust cycle of teacher recruitment and preparation.  Indeed, many districts across the state are working to “grow their own” teachers by recruiting the next generation of teachers beginning in high school.

Project Tomorrow has been working with districts to recruit the next generation of teachers by providing high school students with significant teaching experiences for the last 18 years.  We target high school students because our national research project, Speak Up, shows that 45% of college students say their decision to become a teacher was made prior to college. In addition, in 2015, over 10,000 California high school students took the Speak Up survey, and 34% said that they were either somewhat or very interested in becoming a teacher.  Finally, 77% of students said they want to learn about a future career through direct field experiences. This is in line with Richardson’s and  Watt’s research, which showed that perceived teaching ability and having had positive prior teaching and learning experiences was a strong motivation for those who chose a teaching career.  Thus, by moving the starting line for candidate recruitment and development from college to high school, we can dramatically increase the pipeline for new teachers.

Project Tomorrow offers several programs designed to provide high school students with significant opportunities to learn about and experience teaching in specific content areas.  For example, YouthTEACH2Learn (YT2L) is a full year class to learn about teaching math or science. High school students develop a series of hands-on science or math lessons and in turn, teach these standards-based lessons in local elementary school classrooms. In addition, Project Tomorrow is the state affiliate for Educators Rising, a national Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO). Educators Rising California is a student leadership organization with co- curricular chapters throughout the state providing high school students with information and experiential learning opportunities, including statewide teaching competitions and conferences, to support their exploration of teaching careers.  Our program evaluations indicate that students are more likely to visualize themselves as teachers and believe they can be successful as teachers because of their experiences in our programs.  In fact, a recent analysis of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing database found that 38% of YT2L alumni hold a credential.

Give that 2/3 of teachers teach within twenty miles of where they went to school, it is not surprising that many are turning to a “grow your own” approach in the face of the current teacher shortage.  There are 50 teaching academies across the state (including this one at Century High School featured in EdSource).  At least two Career Pathways Trust Grants are supporting education pathways, the Orange County Teacher Pathway Partnership led by Santiago Canyon College, and the Establishment and Enhancement of Education Pathways led by Clovis Unified School District.  San Diego Unified and Fresno Unified both have teacher recruitment and preparation initiatives that begin in high school.  Educators Rising California alone supports 30 chapters and 700 students across the state. Today’s high school students will not be able to fill open teaching positions this fall, but these efforts show that we can start filling the teacher preparation pipeline today with the teachers that we will need tomorrow, and prevent the current teacher shortage from becoming a chronic problem.

For more information on Project Tomorrow’s programs mentioned above, contact gnicholson@tomorrow.org.

Teacher shortage reaching crisis proportions in California and across the nation

We’ve been sharing news about the teacher shortage, especially in science and math, for a while now (see previous posts here and here).  This past weekend the New York Times reported that the shortage is now reaching crisis proportions in California, and increasingly, across the nation. Check out our summary below:

“[The teacher shortage] is not impending. It’s here.”

Monica Vasquez, chief human resources officer for the San Francisco Unified School District, is just one of several school district members nationwide who have experienced teacher shortages in their schools. Last spring her district offered early contracts to over a hundred teachers in order to secure candidates before other districts.

The teacher shortage in the United States has been noted as a huge change from just a few years ago, when school districts handed out pink slips to teachers. Now, districts across the country struggle with a shortage of teachers – a result of the aforementioned layoffs (during the recession years) combined with the improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.

Although teacher layoffs happened nationwide, California was particularly hit, with 82,000 school jobs lost from 2008 to 2012, according to the Labor Department. This academic year, the California Department of Education estimates that districts will need to fill a total of 21,500 slots – a difficult task, as California issues less than 15,000 new teaching credentials each year.

In order to combat this shortage, schools nationwide are looking to hire applicants as soon as possible – which means sacrificing experience and credentials for some. One school in Rohnert Park hired a high school cross country coach as an elementary school physical education teacher before he began taking teacher credential courses; meanwhile, a masters degree student in Stanford University’s school of education was hired as a fourth grade teacher after a 45-minute telephone interview. During the 2013-2014 school year, nearly a quarter of new teaching credentials issued in California were for teaching internships, which enabled candidates to work as teachers while taking classes after school or on weekends.

“We don’t like it, but we do it,” noted Paul Beare, dean of the school of education at California State University, Fresno, where 100 of the 700 teaching credential candidates will teach full time while completing their degrees. While this may not be the ideal approach for schools, it is certainly a popular short-term remedy for the problem of teacher shortages.

To learn more, check out the original article, “Teacher Shortages Spur a Nationwide Hiring Scramble (Credentials Optional)” by Motoko Rich (New York Times).

Two of Project Tomorrow’s initiatives, YouthTEACH2Learn and Educators Rising California, work to combat the issue of the teacher shortage.

YouthTEACH2Learn is a career exploration program where students explore teaching as a career. During the course, the students gain practical experience by observing elementary school classrooms, learning how to teach, developing and teaching standards-based lessons to younger students in neighboring elementary schools and participating in local community service projects. In addition, students also have the opportunity to meet local educators, attend career panels and visit local college campuses in order to determine if the teaching is a “good-fit” for their professional goals. To learn more about YouthTEACH2Learn, visit http://www.tomorrow.org/programs/yt2l.html.

Educators Rising California, formerly California F.E.A., encourages students to learn about careers in education and aid them in exploring teaching while providing meaningful opportunities to receive the mentoring and support they need to actualize their career aspirations. The California affiliate of Educators Rising has made several accomplishments during the 2014-2015 school year, including but not limited to increasing its chapters from 3 to 14 (with membership increasing from 55 to 358), producing a webinar on National Board Certification with National University, and doubling participation in the Educators Rising state conference with over 400 members in attendance. To learn more about Educators Rising, visit https://www.educatorsrising.org/.