Whenever you hear about a teacher shortage issue, your first question should always be, “Has the district taken any specific steps to address it?” The answer is probably not. As I wrote a few weeks ago, only 11 percent of districts offer any incentives for excellent teachers, and only 14 percent use pay incentives to reward or retain teachers in shortage areas. Only a quarter of districts offer free training for existing employees to train in shortage areas.
Districts are doing even less on the the recruitment front. Here are the percentage of districts nationwide that offer various recruitment incentives:
– Signing bonuses: 3.9 percent
– Student loan forgiveness (programs unique to the district): 2.4 percent
– Relocation assistance: 2.5 percent
– A “finder’s fee” for existing staff to make referrals: 1.5 percent.
These data all come from the 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Survey. These figures mirror responses in prior years, and it does not appear that districts change their strategies much based on economic cycles. It’s possible districts are implementing other strategies that weren’t included on the survey, but that seems unlikely given their low uptake rates of all types of extra incentives. In a separate question, only 2.2 percent of districts said they “used any incentives for recruiting principals.”
Given these extremely low figures, it’s hard to believe districts are doing everything in their power to recruit and retain great teachers.