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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

How to tell there's a teacher shortage

Paying teachers more if they have hard-to-find skills has been controversial in public education, but that's changing, reports Will Huntsberry in Voice of San Diego. Desperate for special-education teachers, districts across the country are "handing out big checks."

San Diego Unified will offer $10,000 signing bonuses for new special education teachers and nurses.

Schools are turning to staffing agencies to avoid long-term vacancies, writes Mark Lieberman in Education Week. It costs more, but districts save on pension costs.

The 60 schools in Florida’s Osceola district are short a total of 140 permanent teachers. . . . Next year, the district is set to bring in 140 new teachers to fill those gaps—but it won’t be employing them directly. Instead, it’s hired a private staffing firm to bring teachers from Latin America for three- to five-year stints.

More districts are turning to agencies to supply substitute teachers and support staff.

A dozen states are relaxing certification standards to fill teacher vacancies, reports Madeline Will in Education Week. Some are dropping licensure tests or lowering pass scores.

"New Jersey has implemented a five-year pilot program where prospective teachers can still get limited certification if they either don’t meet the minimum GPA requirement, or earn the minimum passing score on a state licensing test of subject matter knowledge," she writes.

"Aspiring teachers of color are more likely to fail licensing tests than white candidates," Will notes.

Lowering standards is a mistake, said Heather Peske, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). The group advocates for "teacher-preparation programs that have shored up support for test-takers and now see higher-than-average pass rates on licensing exams, including among candidates of color." "While certain subject areas and locations have always been perennial shortage areas, there’s no evidence of a mass teacher exodus since the start of the pandemic," reports Will. But education leaders report shortages for some teaching specialties, and worry that fewer young people are preparing to be teachers.

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