Study reveals new facts about the so-called teacher shortage

Data present a new perspective on the growing challenge and how to overcome it

Increased demand for educators, coupled with much slower growth of applicants, suggests that the often-debated teacher shortage may be real … and not likely to end soon. But survey data and testimonials from K-12 leaders suggest that to overcome the shortage, schools and districts must first understand the scope of the challenge.

“Fewer and fewer people are enrolling in teacher education programs,” said Meg Nigro, executive director for recruitment and development at Clark County School District (CCSD). “We are in a huge crisis in Las Vegas.”

According the TalentIndex: A Comprehensive Report of K-12 Education Benchmarks, that crisis isn’t staying in Vegas. The number of applications received for each teacher posting in the U.S. decreased by 20 percent from 2014 to 2016 — shrinking faster than any other position type. This means that the number of teachers applying for positions isn’t keeping up with the growing number of job postings, which makes it especially difficult to find qualified educators for unique positions … another component of the teacher shortage.

“We’ve struggled to find special education teachers, we’ve struggled to find teachers who have the ability to teach English as a second language, and we’ve struggled to find bilingual teachers,” said Keith Bryant, superintendent of Lubbock-Cooper Independent School District. “Apparently, it’s a problem all over our country.”

The teacher shortage is now so widespread, K-12 professionals ranked it as the second biggest factor influencing academic and administrative operations — behind only budget restrictions, and ahead of student achievement.

This isn’t to suggest that student achievement isn’t the top priority in K-12 education — all signs indicate it is. Instead, these responses show that the teacher shortage is an immense challenge that currently weighs heavily on academic and administrative operations.

To handle this challenge, schools and districts are focusing on their hiring efforts. K-12 professionals report that the most effective sources for recruiting teacher candidates are:

  1. Online job boards — the most common listed were and
  2. Job fairs.
  3. Partnerships with colleges or universities.
  4. Referrals from local connections.

“We’ve got to invest in recruitment because if everyone is facing the shortage, then everyone is going to be after that same small pool of candidates,” said Keith.

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