- Report Published -
|The Shortage of Qualified Teachers in the Commonwealth of Virginia and Recommended Strategies for Addressing the Shortage (HJR 558, 2015)|
|Department of Education; State Council of Higher Education for Virginia|
|HJR 558 (Regular Session, 2015)|
|The 2015 Virginia General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution 558 (see Appendix A), which requested that the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) examine shortages of qualified teachers generally and in certain teaching endorsement areas and recommend strategies for addressing these shortages. The Virginia Department of Education reviewed the data on teacher shortages in Virginia from 2010-2011 through 2015-16 (Appendix B) and conducted research on initiatives and strategies other states have used to address the shortage of qualified teachers. The Department gathered information from the Virginia institutions of higher education offering teacher preparation programs and assembled information from the various offices within the Department of Education that provide support to teachers and school divisions in the areas of teacher recruitment and professional development.|
Finally, the Department convened a group of Virginia stakeholders to review the legislation and initiatives and strategies in place to enhance teacher recruitment and retention and make recommendations on strategies to address the shortage of qualified teachers. Based on reviewed practices from other states, information provided by Virginia’s institutions of higher education, and input from the stakeholder group, the following recommendations are offered:
Teacher Preparation Programs
• As SCHEV continues to review data and develop strategies to implement its 2014 Strategic Plan (available at http://www.schev.edu/schev/StrategicPlan.asp), particular attention should be devoted to encouraging Virginia’s colleges and universities to remain aware of the changing environments in Virginia’s K-12 schools and seek options in their teacher preparation programs to meet these needs, especially in areas such as:
* Diverse needs of at-risk students;
* High-minority and/or high-poverty student populations; and
* Experience in different grade levels for teacher candidates in PreK-12 endorsements, such as fine arts, foreign languages, health and physical education, etc.
• The teacher preparation programs in Virginia’s institutions of higher education should:
* Be challenged to pursue innovative practices to attract teacher candidates into teacher preparation programs in Virginia;
* Work with local school divisions to offer tuition discounts to ease the financial burden of extra coursework required for credentialing in teaching shortage areas;
* Identify and apply for grants to provide targeted training to teachers that address contentspecific knowledge;
* Strengthen teacher preparation coursework so the clinical and practical experiences help all educators develop an understanding of the needs of 1) schools in diverse settings, and 2) different subgroups of students, such as students in poverty, English language learners, and students with disabilities; and
* Collaborate with the career placement offices at their institutions to promote teaching as a profession and provide information and assistance as needed.
Funding and Resources
• The Virginia General Assembly should continue to provide incentive funding for programs to attract teaching candidates to areas that are hard to staff. Consideration may be given to provide funding to expand programs that have drawn particular interest from potential teaching candidates or that have demonstrated particular success, such as:
* Mentoring and clinical faculty programs for beginning teachers;
* MonarchTeach at Old Dominion University, an innovative teacher preparation program that allows students majoring in mathematics, science, or technology to receive teacher licensure while earning a baccalaureate degree in their content area rather than having to continue in a master’s degree program;
* Teacher Residency Programs that include a residency year devoted to combined roles of co-teacher in a classroom under the guidance of mentor teachers and university faculty and full-time graduate student, earning a master’s degree, followed by a commitment to teach in a hard-to-staff school;
* The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Teacher Recruitment and Retention Incentive Awards;
* The Virginia Middle School Teacher Corps;
* The Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program;
* Leadership development programs for challenged schools and school divisions; and
* Programs to enhance the profession (such as, the development of a public service campaign to highlight the positive aspects of the teaching profession and school successes in Virginia).
• Virginia should consider ways to support teacher candidates, such as:
* Providing student loan forgiveness;
[Allow teachers to cancel a percentage of their student loans for each year they teach in a critical shortage area or challenged school.]
* Developing higher education programs (perhaps online) to meet professional studies requirements for alternate route teachers;
* Funding the Department of Education to contract for professional studies requirements for alternate route teachers aligned with training specific to school needs, such as challenged schools;
* Providing academic support for teacher candidates in rigorous academic majors;
* Paying fees for teacher candidates to take assessments required for a teaching license in Virginia, such as Praxis tests and the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment; and
* Paying for or subsidizing child care for teacher candidates to allow them to complete classroom observations, practicums, and/or student teaching.
• Virginia should consider ways to attract and retain licensed teachers, such as:
* Increasing total teacher compensation, including both direct and indirect compensation, such as contributions toward health insurance and retirement;
A 2015 report by the Rutgers Graduate School of Education(*1) noted that in 2012, the average 25-year-old teacher in Virginia made only 69 percent of the salary of a nonteacher in the same labor market who is of similar education, hours worked, and age -- the lowest in the nation. The same report noted that the average 45-year-old teacher made 60 percent of the salary of a non-teacher under the same conditions -- tied for lowest with Arizona.
* Offering additional retirement credit to attract individuals to teach in critical shortage areas or in hard-to-staff schools;
* Offering retirement benefits to part-time teachers;
* Expanding programs that focus not only on recruiting teachers to the profession, but retaining them in the classroom, such as funding support for induction, coaching/mentoring, and increased professional development;
* Rewarding teachers for mentoring/coaching and providing professional development to veteran teachers on how to serve as effective mentors/coaches;
* Providing additional funding to support signing bonuses or differential compensation for teachers in critical shortage areas or challenged schools;
* Providing relocation bonuses to help teachers relocate to a Virginia school division;
* Providing assistance with housing, such as funding for a down payment on a first home, providing grants to purchase and refurbish an urban house, or identifying housing options in rural areas, perhaps with subsidized rent for beginning teachers;
* Providing career paths for teachers to become instructional leaders without leaving the classroom, i.e., establishing lead teacher positions rather than teachers having to become school administrators to increase their compensation;
* Reviewing licensure options, such as an adjunct license for career and technical education; and
* Providing classroom materials and resources to teachers so they do not feel compelled to purchase instructional items with their personal funds.
• Virginia should consider ways to provide a program for paraprofessionals to become licensed teachers.
School divisions should consider:
• Implementing strategies noted above that could be effective in their localities;
• Increasing the number of “Grow Your Own” programs that promote teaching as a career to middle and high school students;
• Establishing “Teachers for Tomorrow” programs that identify, train, and nurture high school students interested in a teaching career, with the opportunity to earn dual enrollment credit at an institution of higher education;
• Providing differential compensation and bonuses; and
• Seeking innovative ways to provide flexibility in the teaching schedule, such as position sharing.
• The Virginia Department of Education, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, Virginia’s school divisions, and other partners should continue implementation of Virginia’s Teacher Equity Plan. Virginia’s complete plan, including research background and action steps, is available online at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/equitable/vaequityplan060115.pdf. Areas of particular interest include:
* Reducing the equity gaps among high-poverty versus low-poverty schools and highminority versus low-minority schools, especially in the areas of out-of-field teachers in:
• Special education; and
• English as a Second Language; and
* Continued use of TeachVirginia, Virginia’s online statewide recruitment tool.
• The Virginia Department of Education and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia should continue to collaborate in determining priority areas for the use of federal State Agency for Higher Education (SAHE) Teacher Quality Funds, including the possible addition of adding an equity component as a priority to be included within the request for proposals from institutions of higher education.
• The four-year colleges and universities and the community colleges should work together to strengthen preparation for teaching majors at the community college with joint advising and agreements to ensure that students transferring from the community colleges have completed sufficient higher-level content courses to be able to enter the teacher preparation programs at the four-year institutions.
• The Virginia Department of Education should highlight for school divisions and institutions of higher education provisions within the Licensure Regulations for School Personnel that offer pathways for already licensed teachers to become licensed in additional areas of need.
A special focus might include:
* Establishing teacher preparation programs that allow students to complete a college major and earn a teaching license within four years rather than having to pursue a master’s degree to obtain a teaching license;
* Taking a prescribed Board of Education test to add an endorsement area;
* Seeking an add-on endorsement in Algebra I;
* Qualifying for multiple endorsements, such as Elementary Education PreK-6 and special education, or Middle Education 6-8 and Algebra I;
* Exercising provisions within the recently revised Licensure Regulations for School Personnel (effective September 9, 2015) such as:
• A provisional license for career and technical education teachers who have not attained an industry certification credential in the area in which the teacher seeks endorsement; and
• Recognizing that teachers with an undergraduate degree may pursue license renewal options other than college credit-bearing coursework to renew their teaching licenses.
* Pursuing the add-on endorsement in Special Education - General Curriculum proposed in revisions to Virginia’s Licensure Regulations for School Personnel.
• Additional policy actions might include:
* Reducing the number of years of full-time work experience (currently five years) required to enter Virginia’s Career Switcher Program or to become eligible for the experiential route to licensure; and
* Adding additional tests that would allow teachers to take a test to add an endorsement area, such as English as a Second Language.
(*1) Rutgers Graduate School of Education. (spring 2015). Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card, http://schoolfundingfairness.org/. Retrieved September 3, 2015.