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 →
In a report last spring, Ashley LiBetti Mitchel and I wrote that there’s simply no magic cocktail of teacher preparation program requirements or personal characteristics that will guarantee someone becomes a great teacher.
Since we wrote that report, there’s been even more evidence showing the same thing. I like pictures, so I’m going to pull some key graphics to help illustrate one basic point: There’s really no definitive way to tell who’s going to be a good teacher before they start teaching. Continue reading →
We have a new slide deck out looking at the educator pipeline in Illinois. We analyzed 10 years of data on every single educator in the state of Illinois to look at issues of supply and demand; diversity; and recruitment, retention, and mobility. I can’t neatly summarize it here, so I encourage you to check out the full thing.
But one thing that surprised me about the analysis was the extent of the fragmentation in the teacher labor market in Illinois. There’s research finding that teachers tend to have stronger geographic ties to their community than other professions, so I didn’t quite expect the spread that we eventually saw. The fragmented teacher labor market has implications for how we think about improving teacher preparation, not to mention how school districts go about hiring new teachers. Continue reading →
Yesterday psychologist Daniel T. Willingham wrote an op-ed in the New York Times about teacher preparation. The main idea is one that’s been circulated in the education policy space before: teacher preparation programs need to better prepare teacher candidates for the realities of teaching. Willingham’s solutions—to evaluate teacher training by testing teachers and to use existing research to generate a list of things that teachers ought to know—focus only on teacher preparation inputs, but the complicated landscape requires a comprehensive reform approach that recognizes both inputs and outputs.
Willingham put his recommendations in stark contrast with recent efforts to hold teacher preparation programs accountable based on multiple outcome-based measures. These measures include program graduates’ teaching effectiveness through student growth data or teacher evaluation scores; placement in high-need subjects and schools; satisfaction with program quality; and employer satisfaction with teacher candidate training, among others. Rather than holding preparation programs accountable for measures that show how teachers perform on the job, Willingham proposes that programs should only be responsible for things that happen before teacher candidates graduate.