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Report: Fixing CA teacher shortage requires ‘profound shift’ in thinking

Craig Clough | July 29, 2015



teacherAmong the biggest challenges facing California school districts in the coming years is a growing teacher shortage. Enrollment in teacher preparation programs has plummeted since 2008, and more than 100,000 teachers are expected to retire in the next decade.

Despite the gathering storm, the state lacks any cohesive strategy to solving the problem, according to a new report from Bellwether Education Partners, a national non-profit that focuses on improving education, especially for high-needs students. The solution would require a “profound shift” in thinking and involve a multi-faceted approach that would bring more cohesiveness to strategies at the statewide and local level, the report finds.

“California has created a highly fragmented approach to teacher preparation, in which teachers receive content training in an undergraduate bachelor’s degree program, followed by pedagogical training in a separate post-baccalaureate traditional or alternative program, and then by completion of a separate induction program once they begin teaching—with little or no integration between these experiences,” the report states.

The report also concludes that the solution lies more at the local district level than at the state level, and that districts should more actively recruit teachers “rather than leave it up to teacher preparation programs to provide the teachers they need.”

The report finds that districts, charter schools, and preparation programs should:

  • Share and analyze district data on hiring needs and completer outcomes with preparation programs.
  • Align preparation programs’ standards and expectations for program completers with districts’ needs and expectations for new teachers.
  • Co-create new types of programs that address district and candidate needs.
  • Strengthen clinical fieldwork by providing effective teacher-mentors and treating student teaching as a recruiting tool for districts.
  • Recruit prospective teachers.

At the state level, the report recommends that lawmakers and policymakers:

  • Hold preparation programs accountable for how they partner with and meet the needs of consumers—both districts and candidates.
  • Hold districts accountable for developing their own preparation pipelines.
  • Support development of integrated human capital strategies and diverse preparation pathways.
  • Leverage existing resources, including LCFF funds, federal Title II funds, and Linked Learning Funds, to support preparation pathways.
  • Publicize and use data on teacher supply and demand to recruit prospective teachers to the profession.

The report concludes that without more cohesive efforts, “teacher shortages will continue to beset the state.”

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