New Report by National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education Examines the Teacher Pipeline

April 29, 2016

Number of Teachers May Not Be Significantly Different Than Five Years Ago

Shortages Present in Many Districts and States and Staffing Gaps Persist Between High- and Low-Minority Schools as Well as High- and Low-Poverty Schools

Alexandria, Va. (April 29, 2016) – The Center for Public Education (CPE), the research arm of the National School Boards Association, today released “Fixing the Holes in the Teacher Pipeline: An Overview of Teacher Shortages.” The new report examines the scope of the teacher shortage through state and national data on teacher supply and demand, and explores how local school and university leadership can affect the three main leverage points in the teacher pipeline: initial preparation, recruitment, and retention.

Many school districts across the country are struggling to attract and keep good teachers. The challenge is particularly acute in several states and in public schools that serve high proportions of minority and low-income children.

“Public schools face a number of challenges, and attracting and retaining good teachers is among the most important,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s executive director. “Assuring that every student has access to a well-prepared and effective teacher is the key element in the formula for successfully preparing the nation’s youth for life.”

According to the report, many researchers suggest that the supply of teachers nationwide is actually not significantly different than it was five years ago. However, the overall number masks imbalances that leave shortages on various fronts. For example, 20 states have experienced decreases in the award of teacher licenses, and some states have seen them drop one-third to one-half in the last four years. In general, schools are reporting fewer vacancies than they did a decade ago. Yet schools still report vacancies in STEM fields more than others, as well as special education and bilingual teachers. There is actually an excess of new elementary teachers across the country but schools are having trouble filling positions in middle and high schools. Districts are also facing a shortage of minority teachers while their student bodies are becoming increasingly diverse.

There are several reasons states and districts have teacher shortages, the most prominent ones include:

  • The impact of the recession on schools budgets in different locations;
  • The inability of some states and districts to compete on teacher salaries;
  • Better opportunities for math and science majors outside of teaching;
  • A perceived lack of respect for teachers; and
  • The reluctance of millennials to consider teaching careers.

While data from the federal Schools and Staffing Survey shows the proportion of schools having at least one teaching vacancy has been declining since 2000, schools serving high-minority and high-poverty areas are struggling. Thirty-four percent of schools serving a high proportion of minority students experience teacher shortages in one or more subject areas compared to only 18 percent of low minority schools. Likewise, the percentage rises to 36 percent for Title I schools as opposed to 21 percent in more affluent schools.

“Clearly, many communities suffer from gaps in the teacher pipeline, but approaches exist to help fill them,” said Patte Barth, director of the Center for Public Education and one of the report’s authors. “Among them: partnerships between school districts and colleges to help communities grow their own teachers and align recruitment to high-need fields; competitive salaries as well as incentives, financial and otherwise, for hard-to-fill positions; the creation of strong mentoring programs and professional learning communities that make schools places teachers want to be; and effective leadership at the school level to maintain a supportive, collaborative school environment.”

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The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Learn more at:

The Center for Public Education (CPE) is a national resource for credible and practical information about public education and its importance to the well-being of our nation. CPE provides up-to-date research, data, and analysis on current education issues and explores ways to improve student achievement and engage public support for public schools. CPE is an initiative of the National School Boards Association. Learn more at:

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