The Teaching Shortage in America

 In Career Change, Teacher Certification, Teaching Jobs

This month we are going to talk about the teacher shortage in America –  why it’s happening, what is being done about it and how an online teacher certification program can help. The teaching shortage is a major issue in America that exists in many states. The Guardian conducted a survey of 41 of the 50 states to assess the lack of available teachers. Of the 41 states, 28  have teacher shortages. This shortage has created a special need for certified teachers in the following critical need subject areas:  Special Education, Science, Math and English Language teachers.

What created the teacher shortage?

  1. The teacher shortage emerged during the Great Recession that began in the late 2000’s and continued through the early 2010’s. As a result of this recession, many school districts lost funding and had to cut a large portion of their staff.
  2. Another factor is that student enrollment is growing. Public school enrollment increased from 47.2 million to 50.4 million between fall 2000 and fall 2015. These numbers are projected to increase to 52.1 million by fall 2027. That’s roughly a 10.4% increase from the 2000 enrollment numbers. This increased enrollment places pressure on school districts to hire temporary non-certified teachers who are inadequately prepared to handle their teaching responsibilities.
  3.  In addition, fewer college students are choosing to become teachers. According to the Learning Policy Institute, enrollment in education dropped by 35% between 2009 and 2014. In 2017 only 4.2% of all U.S. students were enrolled in the field of education. Many college students view the cost of student loans to get a teaching degree is greater than the potential earnings of the job. In addition to relatively low teacher salaries, a number of districts have cut benefits, retirement plans and pensions.
  4. Along with fewer college students enrolled in education, many current teachers are choosing early retirement options.

Why are teachers leaving the field or not entering at all?

  1. Nearly 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first 5 years. Since some school districts are forced to lower their hiring requirements to staff the schools, a number of teachers lack adequate preparation. Teachers with little training are 2.5 times more likely to leave the classroom after just 1 year.
  2.  Another reason is due to the lack of support from experienced teachers in the field. New teachers value mentors and rely on them for onsite training and classroom success. If they are unable to benefit from seasoned teachers, they are 2 times more likely to leave than compared to those who do.
  3. According to the U.S. Department of Education, teachers are earning almost 5 percent less than they did in 2009. In addition, beginning teachers earn about 20% less than individuals with college degrees in other fields. This wage gap can also widen to 30% for mid-career educators.

What are school systems doing to reduce the shortage?

  1. Improve teacher preparation and reduce costs to enter the profession.
    service scholarships, loan forgiveness, teacher residencies, high school career training
  2. Strengthen hiring practices and personnel management.
    reciprocity for teachers who move, group interviews, partnerships with local teacher preparation programs
  3. Provide mentoring and induction for new teachers.
    competitive grants, Title II funds
  4. Improve working conditions.
    school safety measures, highly trained principals, teacher surveys to determine needed changes
  5. Increase compensation and benefits.
    federal money for low-income schools for additional resources, career advancement opportunities, housing incentives

How can an online teacher certification program help?

Online teacher certification programs have grown significantly over the last few years. They generally offer shorter, cheaper and more flexible pathways to certification compared to traditional college campus attendance.  Given the rising cost of college, budget cuts and course shortages, online education has become a preferred choice for about 3 million students currently becoming certified. Online programs allow students to control their learning and advance at their speed. In today’s busy world, online students are able to maintain a balance of work, family and studies.

One well-known online teacher alternative certification program, TeacherReady, began in 2005 and is the Education Preparation Institute (EPI) for The University of West Florida. Upon completion of The TeacherReady Program, you receive a Professional Teaching License that is reciprocal throughout the U.S. and in over 100 other countries. Most online programs require college graduates to complete coursework assignments, field work assignments and teacher certification exams. When selecting an online teacher certification program, look for program duration, experience, reputation, testimonials, social media information and state and national accreditations, NCATE/CAEP.

What are some reasons why teachers matter?

  • They have the most important job in the world.
    shape the way children see the world and guide the next generation
  • They help under achievers to fly.
    encourage quiet children to speak out and have confidence in their ability
  • They listen, coach and mentor.
    go beyond the call of duty to be agents of positive social change
  • They make the mundane extraordinary.
    invent ingenious ways to make complex problems easy and dull subjects exciting
  • They simplify the complex.
    achieve breakthroughs by making the complex simple which makes a child’s eyes light up
  • They help us reveal our skills.
    bring out the best in all of us and helps us to fulfill our potential
  • They teach us life skills.
    provides practical skills needed to survive and communication skills to thrive in the adult world
  • They are quiet heros.
    do one of the most important jobs in the world for little financial reward
  • They educate us.
    equip us with the knowledge, skills and wisdom we need in our lives
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