Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should inform district hiring needs with key teacher supply and demand data and make teacher mobility data publicly available at the district level. This goal was reorganized in 2021.
Teacher Supply and Demand Data: Rhode Island publishes an Educator Preparation Index, which includes state-level data on program completers by endorsement, as well as employment details broken down at the district level. This information provides details on both total completers employed and total new hires at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. However, no direct connection is made between these indicators and district-level hiring needs; consequently, this report provides an incomplete analysis of teacher production in Rhode Island.
Teacher Mobility Data: Rhode Island does not track teacher mobility data and make it publicly available.
Educator Preparation Index http://www3.ride.ri.gov/RIEdPrepindex/Default.aspx
Publish data that connect program supply data to district-level demand data.
Teacher preparation programs graduate more candidates each year than actually earn certification, and only some of those certified are ultimately hired to teach in the state. It is certainly desirable to produce a large enough pool to provide districts a choice in hiring, but a substantial oversupply of teacher candidates in some teaching areas serves neither the profession nor the students well. Rhode Island is on the right track publishing both teacher production and district-level hiring data. However, the state should strive to connect these data by explicitly highlighting state teacher shortage and surplus areas as well as any regional differences.
Track teacher mobility data and make it publicly available.
Rhode Island should not only track teacher mobility data at both the state and district levels, but it should also make these data publicly available, consistent with applicable privacy constraints. Providing detailed analyses of teacher mobility and attrition will help provide a clearer picture of Rhode Island's teaching force.
Rhode Island recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also indicated that although Rhode Island is not able to report on mobility annually, the state does periodically study mobility trends and report findings publicly. Most recently, a REL report was published examining Rhode Island information. In addition to the Prep Index, the state publicly reports 3 year trend reports on the issuance of Emergency Certificates. The state indicated that it does not collect regular vacancy data from LEAs but are able to track emergency requests, which serves as a good indication of shortage areas.
1B: Teacher Shortages and Surpluses
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. Furthermore, multiple years of data are necessary to identify staffing trends.
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). 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). 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. 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.
Additional elements are needed to use data to assess teacher supply and demand. For example, states should include in their data systems means of tracking when teachers leave schools or districts, as well as when they re-enter new ones, and should make these data publicly available. These data can support the state's effort to build a cohesive picture of the state's teacher labor market and workforce needs.