CPE Study – Fixing the Holes in The Teacher Pipeline: An Overview of Teacher Shortages

Center for Public Education Study

Fixing the Holes in The Teacher Pipeline:

An Overview of Teacher Shortages

The headlines don’t lie. School districts across the country are struggling to attract and keep good teachers, a situation that seems to be particularly acute in states such as California and Oklahoma.

This is not a good time for schools to be facing a teacher shortage. States have raised K-12 standards to new heights with the expectation that all students will graduate ready for college and careers.

At the same time, enrollments in public schools are growing more diverse and include higher proportions of English language learners and students with special needs. As local school leaders are painfully aware, the new standards will not be met if they cannot make sure all their students have the benefit of well-prepared teachers.

School leaders are clearly feeling the urgency. At the National School Boards Association, which houses the Center for Public Education, the issue rose to the top of school boards’ concerns just in the last year. We developed this paper in order to address those concerns and, hopefully, provide some useful information for moving forward.

We begin by examining the scope of the problem. The first finding is hard to explain. While we know that many districts and even whole states have teaching vacancies they can’t fill, many in the research community have concluded that, nationally, there is no shortage (Cowan et al., 2015).

Substantially fewer college students are enrolling in teacher preparation programs, but those who do appear to be completing at higher rates. More veteran teachers are leaving, but more new teachers are staying (NCES, 2014; Title II HEA, 2015). The net effect seems to be that the supply of teachers nationwide is not significantly different than it was five years ago.

For the complete CPE Report, click here.