New Resource Exploring Promising Approaches to California’s Teacher Shortage

The California Labor Management Initiative (CA LMI) and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) have released a new resource for districts and others interested in learning more about emerging approaches to California’s teacher shortage. This compendium, “From Shortage to Solutions: Exploring Promising Approaches to California’s Teacher Shortage,” was based on the results of two meetings convened by the CA LMI and the CTC on May 2-3, 2017 held in the San Francisco Bay Area and Orange County and focused on sharing and exploring actionable approaches to the California teacher shortage.

The meetings and recently released compendium were conceived as a response to the growing teacher shortages in California: 75% of districts reported shortages in 2016-17, and 81% of districts with shortages reported that the shortage problem has gotten worse.1 To address these shortages, districts are often forced to use stopgap measures, including replacing departing teachers with substitutes or new teachers with substandard credentials.2 While increasing recruitment of individuals into the teaching profession is critical, improving teacher retention will also be essential to addressing shortages. Nationally, 19-30% of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years, while 55% of teachers leaving the profession cite working conditions, the administration, and accountability pressures as the reason for their departure.3 More information on the teacher shortage and recommendations for state-level and district-level stakeholders can be found on the Learning Policy Institute’s website.

At the Shortage to Solutions meetings, some presenters shared strategies undertaken through a collaborative approach involving labor and management. These strategies had been an effective way to impact working conditions and other factors that cause teachers to leave. Research from Dr. Saul Rubinstein of Rutgers University and Dr. John McCarthy from Cornell University has shown that high levels of labor management collaboration can have significant impact on teacher turnover. While high poverty schools experience teacher departure rates at 3.5 times the rate of low poverty schools, high poverty schools with high levels of collaboration do not experience these elevated levels of teacher turnover.4

The meetings drew a mixture of stakeholders, from district and county office of education teams to representatives from institutions of higher education (IHEs) and statewide organizations. The Learning Policy Institute first provided an overview on the latest findings and data on the California teacher shortage. Participants then had the opportunity to learn about emerging practices related to recruitment and retention used by IHEs, districts, and unions around the state to address the teacher shortage, including collaborative work in several school districts to improve new teacher induction and support systems. Finally, participants discussed the presentations and shared additional strategies they had seen or implemented at their site. The compendium summarizes the presentations and highlights some of the strategies shared by meeting participants.

GPG provided meeting design and documentation support and developed the compendium as part of its work supporting the California Labor Management Initiative.

Meeting materials, including agendas and powerpoints, can be found here.

1. Carver-Thomas, D. and Darling-Hammond, L. (2017). Addressing California’s Growing Teacher Shortage: 2017 Update. Learning Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/addressing-californias-growing-teacher-shortage-2017-update-report
2. Ibid.
3. Podolsky, A., Kini, T., Bishop, J., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2016). Solving the Teacher Shortage: How to Attract and Retain Excellent Educators. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.
4. To learn more about Dr. Rubinstein and Dr. McCarthy’s research, see: http://www.turnweb.org/videos/the-impact-of-labor-management-collaboration/