PARCA’s new Teachers Matter report, commissioned by the Business Education Alliance, identifies Alabama-specific strategies for recruiting and retaining teachers. The report’s release comes in the midst of rising concern over a local and national shortage of teachers.
As children headed back to the classroom this month, several Alabama school systems reported difficulty filling vacancies. The Tuscaloosa City Schools System was offering $5,000 signing bonuses for math teachers. The Jefferson County School System was short 30 classroom teachers heading into the school year.
PARCA’s review of Alabama Department of Education data found that the shortages were concentrated in certain fields like math, science and special education. The shortages also tended to be concentrated in rural systems and certain urban districts. Those subjects and those geographies also tend to be where Alabama faces its toughest academic challenges. Teachers Matter suggests reviving and revising the Alabama Teacher Recruitment Incentive Program to provide scholarship support and other incentives to individuals willing to teach in high-need fields and hard-to-staff schools.
The report also recommends resurrecting the Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program, which provided a $1,000 stipend to veteran teachers who coached and supported teachers in their first year in the classroom. Teachers who’ve had mentoring support tend to be more successful and persist in the profession at a far higher rate. The report also calls for creating options other than administration for talented veteran teachers who want advance professionally but who want to stay in teaching.
The shortage problem is by no means restricted to Alabama. The New York Times and National Public Radio have recently taken a look at the problem.