I published a blog post late last month questioning the numbers in a recent paper on teacher shortages from the Learning Policy Institute (LPI). After speaking with Linda Darling-Hammond, one of the report’s authors, and reading their written rebuttal, I have a clearer sense of what they did and why their numbers seemed off to me.
From what I can tell, our disagreement centers on their definition of the word “supply.” Their report says this:
In this report, we use a theoretical framework of supply and demand that defines a teacher shortage as an inadequate quantity of qualified individuals willing to offer their services under prevailing wages and conditions.
The last part is key. What they mean by “individuals willing to offer their services under prevailing wages” essentially means “people who will be hired as teachers.” They have no data on job applicants or anyone’s desire or willingness to teach. They do attempt to include people who delay entry into the teaching profession, but their assumptions lead them to exclude almost all of the people who train to become teachers who never land a teaching job.
This is a questionable definition, and it leads to some weird conclusions. Continue reading
Update: After speaking with the authors of the Learning Policy Institute report and reading their written rebuttal, I made some changes to the post below and have written a longer piece clarifying the issues here.
Earlier this month the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) released a report with the worrying title, “A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S.” Although initial coverage mainly took the report at face value, others have started to push back. The National Council of Teacher Quality’s Kate Walsh noted that teacher supply and demand levels look very different depending on state and subject. Mike Antonucci pointed out that we’ve heard the same “teacher shortage” cry before (by the same people), and it turned out to be very, very wrong. And Dan Goldhaber took the long view by pointing out that, contrary to the current narrative, we’ve ramped up teacher production significantly over the last few decades.
In fact, Goldhaber’s piece contains an important but subtle distinction about the LPI report. (Updated) Notably, LPI’s estimates for the total supply in a given year are so low that they nearly match just the number of people who complete a program in that year. Continue reading