While Education Preparation Programs (EPPs) continue efforts in states across the country to improve the classroom readiness of new teachers and schools and districts continue improving their support of new and veteran teachers alike, the teaching profession faces growing shortages. We partner with states and stakeholders to explore the policy, system, and institutional cultural conditions that affect the perception of the profession. Tailored to address the specific challenges and context in each state, our Elevating the Profession convenings are designed to help state leaders understand specific steps that can be taken to improve the perception of the teaching profession. Input is gathered from current and past educators, professionals in other fields, students, families, community and business leaders, and elected officials.
Schools across the country face growing vacancies in critical grades and subjects at a time when teacher retirements are soon to hit an all-time high.Although there is not full agreement across bodies of research on the specific cause or full extent of the current and future shortages, there is consensus on several key areas. Urban and rural schools both face general and growing shortages of teachers, particularly outside of elementary grades. While true to varying degrees, across geographic and economically diverse communities, many schools face particular shortages in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), 21st Century Career and Technical Education (CTE) and English Language Learner (ELL) instructional positions. While an ever-growing body of research shows the benefits for all children of diversity among their teachers, the diversity of the teaching workforce in many schools does not reflect the diversity of the communities and students the schools serve. Since the 1980s, the number of non-white students has grown from 30 percent to nearly 50 percent but during that same period, the make-up of the teaching workforce has not shifted much, growing from only 13 percent to 18 percent nonwhite teachers. and research shows similar diversity in the teaching workforce
While a number of organizations have conducted polling among or focus groups of teachers to gain valuable insight into job satisfaction, Keystone believes there are important areas of inquiry that have received less attention that are equally, if not more important, to broad efforts to elevate the teaching profession. As part of our work to support states in elevating the teaching profession, it is looking forward to working with states to expand the areas of inquiry about the teaching profession to include:
- Asking teachers not only about their current job satisfaction but also about what attracted them to teaching in the first place, what aspects of their job they most enjoy, what would make their job even more satisfying and them more effective at their job;
- Asking former teachers why they left the profession, what would entice them to rejoin the teaching workforce and what advice they have for school, district and state leaders;
- Asking non-teachers including recent graduates, mid-career professionals and those nearing retirement in their current profession about their perception of the teaching profession and what it would take for them to consider teaching as a career;
- Engaging specifically with non-teacher professionals who have subject matter knowledge relevant to subjects with chronic and projected teacher shortages;
- Engaging community members who are actively involved in their local schools as volunteers, aides and other paid or unpaid roles within the school in a capacity other than teacher;
- Surveying high-school students and recent high-school graduates about the teaching profession;
- Engaging community, business and elected leaders about their perception of the teaching profession and sharing with them the findings of broader discussions.
Throughout the Elevating the Teaching Profession, findings can be summarized for sharing with a diverse set of audiences. Based on the discussions, findings and data developed through the convenings and engagement, recommendations for state and local leaders are developed. The final report and recommendations will address relevant policy, system and practice areas explored and a discussion, based on the findings and examination of research and relevant case studies, of both the benefits of specific changes and the potential challenges in doing so.