Teacher Shortages and Surpluses: Delaware

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy


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

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Analysis of Delaware's policies

Teacher Production Data: Delaware publishes an annual report entitled Talent Practices Report, which includes data on overall teacher hiring statistics that are primarily geared toward examining teacher hiring practices, recruitment strategies and incentives, and reasons for vacancies and shortage areas. The state also publishes Educator Program Scorecards, which include the number of graduates from the previous year. However, no connection is made between any of these indicators and district-level hiring statistics, making these reports an incomplete analysis of teacher production in Delaware.

Although the state is starting to provide grants for districts to work with teacher preparation programs to "create strategic partnerships between districts and educator preparation providers to develop pipelines for hard to staff subject areas and/or hard to staff schools," it is not clear that these partnerships will result in uniform, statewide data demonstrating teacher shortage and surplus areas.

Program Acceptance Numbers: Delaware collects basic data on teacher production by programs, but it does not provide programs with guidelines surrounding the number of graduates per subject area. 


Recommendations for Delaware

Publicly report information on teacher production.
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. Delaware should strive to collect a rich set of data that can inform policy decisions, including graduates by program, ethnicity, and gender, as well as new hire information broken down by these levels. These data can then be used to determine, when connected with teacher program data, teacher shortage and surplus areas.

Provide clear guidance regarding program acceptance numbers.
Not only should Delaware collect data on teacher production by programs, it should also provide programs with guidelines surrounding the number of teacher candidates that should be accepted per subject area. By establishing clear parameters for its approved programs that govern how many teachers in each major certification area should be produced, Delaware will be on track to reduce the chronic surplus of teachers in some certification areas and increase the number of teachers in chronic shortage areas.

State response to our analysis

Delaware recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it does produce teacher production numbers by programs including numbers, race, and gender. Although these data are collected and publicly reported, the state does not place requirements on programs as a result.

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.