Has anyone seen the teacher pipeline's invisible hand?

See all posts
Every year, in districts across the country, HR offices report out the number of vacancies remaining at the start of the school year. Ideally, every classroom would have a teacher from the first day of school, but frequently, the supply of willing and able teachers doesn't match the demand.

Much research has been done to show that shortage areas are largely the result of low retention rates--not low production rates. In fact, each year the country as a whole produces twice as many teachers as needed. The US has an army of non-practicing teachers.

States need to get a grip on their teacher pipelines. Unfortunately, few are actually connecting the dots between teacher prep and teaching jobs, leading to scary oversupply numbers that still don't address shortage areas*:

In South Carolina, The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) just released their annual supply and demand report. The state had a 60 percent increase in shortages this year over last--starting the year with 270 unfilled positions. This number, however, pales in comparison to the 1,526 teachers with 1-5 years of experience that left their positions last year for reasons other than termination/non-renewal.

Perpetual oversupply, generally in the wrong subject areas, is one half of the supply and demand conundrum. Lack of supports and incentives aimed at retaining novice teachers is the other half.

Note: In a few weeks NCTQ will be releasing a special teacher prep edition of our State Teacher Policy Yearbook--along with the usual treasure trove of data, analysis and recommendations, we'll be reporting for the first time on each state's effort to take stock of their supply and demand stats.

* Supply and demand figures are estimates for elementary teachers.