Do States Have the Data to Answer Important Questions about their Teacher Workforce?

Over the last couple of years, we have seen increased concerns about the teacher workforce and intensified news reporting describing teacher shortages. In response, many states have enacted policies largely in the absence of data on the precise nature of their staffing challenges, such as lowering standards across the board for entry into teaching. These mile-wide-inch-deep policies do not necessarily address acute staffing needs, and may jeopardize students’ access to quality teachers. What little systematic evidence does exist suggests that there are staffing challenges, but that they vary by specific subjects, grade levels, and particular regions. Yet without the right type of data and data connections, current solutions tend to lack specificity, as well as the kind of knowledge that could contribute to policy that would alleviate the identified staffing challenges.

NCTQ recently set out to understand the key data elements states are currently collecting, which data is missing, and the level of detail that is needed to meaningfully answer questions about the teacher workforce. In July 2022, NCTQ surveyed states to determine the extent to which they collect data on 39 distinct data elements related to teacher supply, demand, and demographics. Forty-three states provided responses to the survey. This brief outlines the survey findings considering three dimensions of the teacher workforce:

  1. Health of the teacher pipeline
  2. Teacher turnover (attrition), mobility, and shortages
  3. Equitable assignment of teachers

What did they find? First, many states have data available, but not all data elements are connected, limiting states’ ability to answer key questions. Second, states often collect information on teachers as individuals, but not on teaching positions, a key missing element to accurately understand teacher demand and the local teacher labor market.

For more, see: