Report says teacher shortages are a growing problem that could imperil school reopenings

Even before the pandemic hit, school districts in California were grappling with a shortage of qualified teachers. Between 2012 and 2019, the number of teachers with “substandard” credentials such as provisional or short-term permits nearly tripled. The problem has grown exponentially since the public health crisis began and experts worry it could imperil school reopenings.

“Longstanding shortages, which are often most acute in high-need fields and high-need schools, appear to be growing more severe due to a range of pandemic-related factors, including rising early retirements and resignations and a reduced pipeline of incoming teachers,” according to a new report from the Learning Policy Institute. “In California and across the country, many districts are meeting hiring needs with teachers on substandard credentials and permits or increasingly relying on substitute teachers, who are also in short supply.”

Leaders from 17 school districts, including 8 of the state’s largest, were interviewed for the study. These were the key findings:

  • Teacher shortages remain a critical problem
  • Teacher pipeline problems are exacerbated by testing policies and inadequate financial aid
  • Workloads and burnout are major concerns for teachers
  • An increase in retirements and resignations is compounding the shortage
  • Teacher residencies and preparation partnerships are an important part of recruitment

The Institute laid out a series of recommendations, including providing financial support to teacher candidates, streamlining license requirements, hiring more staff to decrease workloads and prevent burnout, and supporting educator development.

Read the report, California Teachers and COVID-19: How the Pandemic Is Impacting the Teacher Workforce, here