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Better Data Needed for Teacher Shortage Research

Illustration of different types of graphs

Current studies give insight into teacher shortages on local and district levels but fail to give a broader view of the problem.

There seems to be a lack of consistency in the definition of a shortage amongst experts and stakeholders — some are referring to a quantity deficit (not enough applicants), and some are referring to a quality issue (not enough qualified applicants). As entities continue to report shortages, there isn’t enough data to give a true representation of the extent of the issue. The lack of data can lead to poor decisions that affect districts across the state.

Authors of a working paper from Brown University, Tuan Nguyen, Chanh Lam, and Paul Bruno, recommend the following to collect better data:

  • Make school-level data on teacher qualifications available.
  • Require districts to include detailed information on staff shortages and qualifications at the school level in public-facing report cards.
  • Maintain and make accessible data on job postings and unfilled teaching positions.
  • Put those numbers in context with the size of the school system or vacancy rate per 10,000 students.

For more information, check out Studies: Better Data Needed to Research Claims of Teacher Shortages.

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