A Data-Driven Approach to Staffing Schools
With three school years touched by the pandemic so far, the extent of the damage to this generation of students is coming into focus. Three concerns are top of mind for state and district leaders: making up for disrupted learning, ensuring that schools have enough quality teachers and staff to lead this work, and building a diverse teacher workforce. Many states are tempted to lower requirements for teachers in the hopes that it will address some of these concerns.
Before signing on to such changes, state boards of education should seek evidence about the exact nature of the problems a policy change is designed to address, whether the change is likely to help, and what the unintended consequences might be. Is there evidence, for example, that lowering teacher requirements will bring more teachers into the schools that are struggling to hire them? And what inadvertent harm will students suffer at a time when their learning recovery is most fragile?
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State policymakers looking to increase recruitment and retention should keep an eye on these long-term trends.
State statutes impede students' equitable access to profession-ready teachers.
Lowering teacher standards may fail to solve actual pipeline problems and can create new ones.
State leaders have a role in ensuring that educator preparation both models and reflects the science of learning and development.
State leaders commit to efforts to attract and keep teachers in the classroom.
State-level criteria for programs' design can yield better outcomes in preparing and retaining diverse teachers.
State boards can set the stage for learning environments that connect and engage all students.
Four practices to increase the pool of skilled early educators stand out as promising.