Teacher Shortages and Surpluses:

General Teacher Preparation Policy


The state should inform district hiring needs with key teacher supply and demand data. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.

Nearly meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Teacher Shortages and Surpluses: Massachusetts results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MA-Teacher-Shortages-and-Surpluses-81

Analysis of Massachusetts's policies

Teacher Production Data: Massachusetts publishes some data on teacher production that connect program completion, certification and hiring statistics. For example, the state provides number of program completers, total percent employed in a Massachusetts school and retention information for each teacher preparation program in the state. Massachusetts also provides aggregated teacher retention rates for each district. In addition, the state, in 2015, published the Massachusetts Student of Supply and Demand, which presents projections in a number of areas, including assigned program area, teacher race and age, and geographic areas across the state. However, no connection is made between these data and district-level hiring statistics, and consequently this report provides an incomplete analysis of teacher production in Massachusetts.

Program Acceptance Numbers: Massachusetts has implemented policy that forces providers to demonstrate the state-specific need for continued program operation or to begin implementing a new program. Through this policy, the state has reduced the number of programs within providers under review (10-12 providers a year) by at least one-third annually.


Recommendations for Massachusetts

Connect supply and demand data to district hiring standards.
Massachusetts is on the right track in reporting teacher production data. However, it should strengthen its data collection practices by explicitly connecting program completion and licensure rates to district hiring statistics and using these data to inform policy decisions.

State response to our analysis

Massachusetts was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis. The state added that it has engaged in substantial research and dissemination efforts to understand and report on the supply and demand of teachers in the state, including the 2013 Status of the Workforce Report, which focused on first-year teachers.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

1B: Teacher Shortages and Surpluses

  • Data Reporting: The state should collect and publicly report data relating to the supply of teachers from each approved teacher preparation program that is relevant to local hiring needs.
  • Responsiveness to Teaching Needs: The state should establish clear parameters for its approved programs that govern the number of teachers trained in each major certification area to reduce the chronic surpluses in some certification areas and increase the number of certificates in areas of shortage.
Data Reporting
Three-quarters of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn the full three-quarters of a point if it publishes data that adequately connect teacher production data to district hiring data.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it publishes teacher production data but does not explicitly connect such data to district hiring data.
Responsiveness to Teaching Needs
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it has established clear parameters for teacher preparation programs that govern the number of teachers trained in each major certification area.

Research rationale

It is an inefficient use of resources for individual districts to build their own data systems for tracking teachers. States need to take the lead and provide districts with state-level data that can be used not only for the purpose of measuring teacher effectiveness, but also to gauge the supply and demand of teachers in the state.[1] Furthermore, multiple years of data are necessary to identify staffing trends.[2]

Many preparation programs graduate people who are certified to teach but do not get jobs in the classroom. Often times, this is because these teachers pursue certifications in areas that already have a surplus of teachers (e.g., elementary education), while districts struggle to find applicants to hire in other areas (e.g., special education, science).[3] Given this misalignment between the teachers that teacher preparation programs produce and the hiring needs of school districts, the state should step in to establish a cohesive data reporting system. By creating reports that publicly delineate the number of teachers produced by each teacher preparation program (and therefore by certification area), the state will be better able to identify instances where the production of teachers does not match districts' needs.

Furthermore, the state should consider whether teacher preparation programs are supplying districts with the teachers they need when approving or re-approving programs. Teacher preparation programs exist primarily to prepare teachers for public school positions (approximately 88 percent of teachers work in public schools).[4] If teacher preparation programs produce far more teachers than the state needs in some certification areas and far too few in others, the programs are failing to meeting their state's demand. Moreover, student teaching placements (which tend to be near candidates' teacher prep programs) are highly predictive of where candidates will get their first teaching jobs, therefore also allowing states the ability to predict which open positions are likely to be filled.[5] Given that the preparation program's function is to supply the nearby area (and more generally, the state) with public school teachers, it is incumbent upon the state to make sure the program fulfills that responsibility— particularly through the collection and application of data on teacher production numbers and district demand— and to intervene when necessary by capping the number of teachers in certain certification areas that a program can produce.

[1] Cowan, J., Goldhaber, D., Hayes, K., & Theobald, R. (2016). Missing elements in the discussion of teacher shortages. Retrieved from http://www.caldercenter.org/missing-elements-discussion-teacher-shortages
[2] For information about the use of student-growth models to report on student-achievement gains at the school level, see: Schochet, P. Z., & Chiang, H. S. (2010). Error rates in measuring teacher and school performance based on student test score gains (NCEE 2010-4004). National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20104004/pdf/20104004.pdf; as well as: Thompson, T. G., & Barnes, R. E. (2007). Beyond NCLB: Fulfilling the promise to our nation's children. The Commission on No Child Left Behind, 13-14.
[3] Cowan, J., Goldhaber, D., Hayes, K., & Theobald, R. (2016). Missing elements in the discussion of teacher shortages. CALDER. Retrieved from http://www.caldercenter.org/missing-elements-discussion-teacher-shortages
[4] National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). Table 208.20: Public and private elementary and secondary teachers, enrollment, pupil/teacher ratios, and new teacher hires: Selected years, fall 1955 through fall 2025. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d15/tables/dt15_208.20.asp
[5] Krieg, J. M., Theobald, R., & Goldhaber, D. (2016). A foot in the door: Exploring the role of student teaching assignments in teachers' initial job placements. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 38(2), 364-388.