Research: Teacher Shortages Are Real and Growing, But Evidence Recommends Solutions

Today, the Learning Policy Institute released a set of reports that present the latest data on U.S. teacher supply and demand and promote comprehensive recruitment and retention strategies to alleviate persistent shortages. AACTE commends the reports’ attention to the steep cost to students of understaffed schools, particularly in low–income communities, as well as the proposed solutions centered on high-quality clinical preparation of new teachers and reducing the attrition rate among practicing teachers.

School districts across the nation are struggling to staff classrooms with adequate numbers of skilled teachers, forcing them to make tough choices that shortchange students. Many educator preparation programs have stepped up recruitment and developed innovative partnerships with districts to meet local needs. Although these efforts are seeing some success, adjustments to the production end of the educator pipeline cannot compensate for the “leaky bucket” of practicing teachers who, according to the Learning Policy Institute, leave at a rate of nearly 8% per year.

The researchers argue that reducing this rate by half would largely erase the current shortages, which projections show are on track to continue or worsen without intervention. Two of the new reports, one on supply and demand data and one on recruitment and retention issues, recommend an array of evidence–based policy solutions that target compensation, preparation, hiring and personnel management, induction and mentoring support, and working conditions. A third report makes the case for teacher residency programs as a promising model that accomplishes multiple goals, from recruitment tailored to local needs to improvements in workforce diversity, teacher retention, and student learning gains.

“AACTE heartily supports member institutions’ work to provide prospective teachers with the kind of high-quality clinical experiences these reports recommend,” said AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson. The Association’s Clinical Practice Commission is currently developing a white paper and other resources to help define and inform best practice in this critical and expanding area. “We also are committed to working with our PK–12 partners and the policy community to improve the conditions awaiting new teachers when they enter the workforce, from initial staffing assignments and mentoring to compensation and long–term career paths.”

Access the Learning Policy Institute’s reports at

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