Teacher shortage ‘worse than we thought,’ report says

Raising salaries is the first step in easing the shortages that are hitting high-poverty schools harder
By: | October 15, 2020
Causes of the teacher shortage include "low relative pay, poor working environments, uneven opportunities to grow professionally, and the weak prestige of teaching," says new Economic Policy Institute report. (GettyImages/kali9)Causes of the teacher shortage include "low relative pay, poor working environments, uneven opportunities to grow professionally, and the weak prestige of teaching," says new Economic Policy Institute report. (GettyImages/kali9)

Because multiple factors are causing the nation’s teacher shortage, it can only be reversed with comprehensive, long-term solutions, a new report says.

The shortage “is large, growing, and worse than we thought,” warns the latest report from the Economic Policy Institute’s “Perfect Storm in the Teacher Labor Market” series.

Causes of the shortage include “low relative pay, poor working environments, uneven opportunities to grow professionally, and the weak prestige of teaching,” the report says.

The shortage could worsen as district leaders try to reduce class sizes for a growing student population and more teachers reach retirement age, the report says.


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Raising salaries is the first step in easing the shortages that are hitting high-poverty schools harder. Teachers are looking for salaries that match those of similarly educated professionals, the report says.

Targeted raises are also needed to close “substantial gaps” between salaries in high- and low-poverty schools, the report says.

Administrators should nurture stronger learning communities to elevate teacher voice and strengthen their sense of belonging, the report says.

Leaders should also expand career development supports that strengthen teachers’ sense of purpose and effectiveness.

Vacant positions, however, do not reveal the full impact of the teacher shortage.

School leaders must identify the number of teachers who lack the credentials associated with highly effective teaching and determine whether that number has been growing or decreasing.

Policymakers should also compare the number of highly qualified teachers in more affluent schools to the qualifications of educators in higher-poverty schools.


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