Strategies for Building Teacher Pipelines from CCSSO

As state leaders in education, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) aims to make sure every child has an effective teacher every year they are in school. Unfortunately, today, the education sector is facing a major challenge when it comes to the education workforce: States struggle to attract teachers to the profession, even as they are making progress to improve  education systems.

The board of directors of CCSSO has identified six steps states can take to build pipelines to recruit, prepare and support teachers.

Strategy 1: Elevate the Teaching Profession

Too often, the public has a negative perception of teaching as a career. Conversations typically focus on salaries and resources. State chiefs can change this narrative by making it a priority to share positive examples of the teaching profession, including through social media channels and public speaking engagements. In addition, states can conduct marketing and communications campaigns, highlighting how the state is creating new roles for teachers and innovative methods of teaching, such as personalized learning, blended learning or career education.

Strategy 2: Make Teaching a Financially Appealing Career

Many people become teachers because of the intangible rewards that come from seeing a child master a new skill for the first time. But the work is far less attractive when it means taking a second job to make ends meet. States and local school districts can take action to alleviate financial pressures on teachers. For example, some states are raising beginning salaries, creating scholarship programs for aspiring teachers, or offering incentives for retired teachers to return to the classroom.

Strategy 3: Expand Pathways to Enter Teaching

With enrollment declining in traditional credentialing programs, states recognize they must do more to widen the pool of teacher candidates. Some states are working to interest high school students and classroom aides to become teachers. Others with large military populations are appealing to veterans of the armed services. Another strategy is to remove barriers and make it easier for teachers to move from state to state and transfer their license.

Strategy 4: Bring More Diversity to the Teaching Workforce

The U.S. teaching force remains overwhelmingly female and white, even as more than half of the students in public K-12 schools are nonwhite. Schools struggle to attract male teachers and those of diverse racial and ethnic heritages. Further, recruiting teachers with specific skill sets to work with students with disabilities, English learners, and students in alternative settings remains a challenge. Some states and districts have found success by establishing “grow your own” programs to prepare individuals who are from the local community, or even already working in the school, to become classroom teachers. Other states have created residencies that offer aspiring teachers intensive support, which helps to retain them once they begin teaching.

Strategy 5: Set Reasonable Expectations for Retaining Teachers

Many of the policies and practices that govern teaching were devised decades ago when people aspired to remain in the same position for their entire career. That has changed. One in five Americans born between 1980 and 1996—“the Millennial generation”—said in a Gallup survey that they had quit their jobs in the past year to do something else. That rate was three times higher than for other generations. Millennials are also much more likely to say that opportunities to learn, grow and advance on the job are important to them. Given these trends, states are assessing how long they can reasonably expect teachers to stay in the classroom and are rethinking policies to align with the career expectations of today’s workforce.

Strategy 6: Use Data to Target Strategies Where Shortages Exist

Teacher shortages can be statewide, or more often, they are specific to particular districts, regions, subject areas or grade levels. States must analyze data to determine where the need is most critical, examining subjects and grades taught, expertise with specific student populations such as special education and English learners, and geographic regions. At least two states – Missouri and Arkansas have already created forecasting tools that allow them to pinpoint areas of greatest need and develop policies to address them.

For each action, the guide provides useful examples, information, tools and resources.

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