/Teacher shortage State education officials, citing lack of data, don’t know true teaching vacancy numbers

Teacher shortage State education officials, citing lack of data, don’t know true teaching vacancy numbers

Nonprofit Mississippi News CLARKSDALE: Adrienne Hudson worked with a school in which more than half of the students were reading at least two grades behind. All of the reading teachers were fired and moved to English Language Arts (or ELA) instead. She said that ELA teachers were in short supply due to the shortage. Hudson, who is the founder of a non-profit that assists teachers in achieving certification, said that while teaching a class for reading is not mandatory, teaching ELA is. All those who were certified as teachers in ELA and reading became certified. Hudson stated that the teacher shortage meant that students didn’t have reading teachers. However, the data local districts submit to the Mississippi Department of Education don’t reflect this. Officials from the state claim they don’t have the ability to collect information on teaching vacancies in all areas and that they don’t know the total number of teaching positions across the state. “We surveyed the districts over a year ago but only a few districts returned the information from the survey. Jean Cook, spokeswoman for state department of education, stated that the only way to get this information is to visit every district and ask them or go on their website. Hudson knows from experience how a lack of this data can cause a distortion in state teacher shortage statistics. The data sent to the state does not include the types or levels of certification that teachers may have. It only shows the percentage of teachers who are certified. It appears that the number of certified teachers has increased… although I am not saying it hasn’t. Hudson stated that it’s not about the number of teachers going up in many cases, but that schools have cut positions that were no longer needed. This has been a problem for decades. The state has been fighting the teacher shortage crisis for decades. The Critical Teacher Shortage Act was passed by the Legislature in 1998. However, the problem has only gotten worse over the past 20 years. According to state department of education records, while 0.5 percent of teachers weren’t certified in 1998, that number has increased sixfold by 2017-18. The issue remained unresolved for many years. Some cases saw solutions-oriented policies become ineffective after modifications were made to programs, as Mississippi Today’s three-part series on The Hechinger Report on teacher shortage found. To address the problem, the state education department has developed a variety of policies and programs. The Kellogg Foundation provided a grant of $4.1 million to the department to pilot a program that allows teachers to be certified by their classroom performance, not their Praxis score. Teachers must pass the test to be certified. They have created “grow your personal” programs to help teachers return to their home countries. The department recently hired four people to recruit teachers in Mississippi’s four congressional district. “Our goal is not to just recruit teachers to fill vacant positions. Cory Murphy, executive Director of the Office of Teaching and Leading, stated that they want to hire candidates who are able to understand the context and culture of the area in which they will serve. Murphy sent an email stating that the state monitors teacher shortages by: The National Trend. However, not knowing the exact number of teachers in each district opens up to questions about how the state can track whether teacher shortages are decreasing. Elizabeth Ross, National Council on Teacher Quality’s managing director of teacher policy, stated that the purpose of reporting data is not to address the problem but to allow educators and field leaders to make informed decisions based on data about how to prevent a teacher shortage from recurring over time. Ross co-authored a 2017 study that looked at teacher supply, demand, shortages and surpluses in all 50 states. The idea behind the report is that teacher preparation programs must know exactly where there is a shortage and what subject area to fill it. This will ensure that they don’t oversupply areas or subjects that already have plenty of teachers. The report shows that Mississippi is among 21 states that do not publish data on teacher production or statistics on hiring. Ross cites Kentucky as a national and regional model for gathering teacher supply-and demand data and linking it to data on teacher preparation program completion. Ross stated that it is crucial to have this data in order to address the teacher shortage. Ross stated that it is essential to have a reliable, high-quality data set that is regularly updated to allow leaders to evaluate whether certain interventions are more effective or less effective in order to address the teacher shortage. This data could also be beneficial to those working on the ground to address the shortage. Hudson, the leader of the non-profit organization, said that if he had these numbers it would make it easier to explain to funders why this is important. Everything is more powerful when you have that data.”_x000D