What Has Caused California’s Teacher Shortage?


I read an article in EdSource that describes the teacher shortage that the state of California is now facing.  In order to mitigate that the schools in the state will have to increasingly turn to “unprepared teachers” to meet the demand.

These are teachers that a report written by Learning Policy Institute defines: “as those who are teaching with a short-term permit, have been given a waiver to teach outside their subject area by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, or have a temporary ‘intern credential.'”

I’m curious why California is facing this teacher shortage to begin with?

EdSource notes:

A particularly disturbing feature of the teacher employment landscape is that the number of new teachers going into math and science has declined, despite ongoing efforts in California and nationally to attract teachers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields to the profession.

For example, the number of new credentials awarded to math teachers has dropped by nearly a third (32 percent) over the last four years. Those awarded to science teachers declined by 14 percent. During the same period, the number of underprepared math teachers increased by 23 percent, while the number of science teachers in this category increased by 51 percent.

The shrinking production of credentialed math teachers comes at a time when far fewer students met or exceeded standards on Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced math tests, compared to those who did so on the English language arts portion of the test. Teacher shortages in these areas, the report says, “are a concern as the state seeks to implement new, more demanding standards in both subject areas (math and science), requiring teachers who deeply understand their content and how to teach it in a way that develops higher order thinking and performance skills.”

There is no single solution to the emerging teaching shortage, the report concludes. Instead, what is needed is a “comprehensive set of strategies at the local and state levels.”

This reveals that the state’s STEM program is a failure if you are not able to convince students to desire to teach math and science.

Yet they never get to the root cause. Could the direction of education reform, standardized assessments and the Common Core have something to do with the teacher shortage? We already have seen one award-winning teacher discourage people from entering the field. We’ve all read stories about teachers resigning or retiring instead of continuing in a system under Common Core. The root cause of California’s problem likely predates Common Core, but I think it’s likely it will exasperate California’s problem in the future.

One thought on “What Has Caused California’s Teacher Shortage?

  1. I live in the San Luis Obispo area. For any teaching job advertised, and that includes math/science teaching jobs, there are hundreds of applications filed. Some teachers are migrating from central valley (Bakersfield or Fresno). This is a desirable area to live and there aren’t a lot of schools. I have a degree in math, am fully credentialed to teach math, but usually don’t even get selected for interviews. One reason is likely my age–another is that I’m not currently teaching and don’t have as much experience. In any event, I’m not swayed by reports that there is a teacher shortage. The teacher shortage areas should start recruiting where I live, and in Bakersfield and Fresno.

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