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REL Midwest Ask A REL Response

Teacher Workforce

December 2018


What does the research say about methods to measure teacher supply and demand?


Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest protocol, we conducted a search for research reports and descriptive studies on measuring teacher supply and demand. For details on the databases and sources, keywords, and selection criteria used to create this response, please see the Methods section at the end of this memo.

Below, we share a sampling of the publicly accessible resources on this topic. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The search conducted is not comprehensive; other relevant references and resources may exist. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. We have not evaluated the quality of these references, but provide them for your information only.

Research References

Behrstock-Sherratt, E. (2016). Creating coherence in the teacher shortage debate: What policy leaders should know and do. Washington, DC: Education Policy Center at American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Shortages of teachers and parental disengagement are lamented as the reasons schools are just not what they were in days gone by. The consensus is that teachers are the most important within-school factor affecting student achievement. Yet U.S. student performance lags behind international counterparts, suggesting that there are not enough sufficiently qualified teachers for all students. The purpose of this brief is present whether or not there is a teacher shortage. To curb teacher shortages, policy leaders must navigate the teacher shortage rhetoric to: (1) make the dialogue among policymakers and constituents more coherent; (2) improve access to meaningful teacher supply-and-demand data; and (3) if there are shortages, create an action plan to address them without delay.”

Berg-Jacobson, A., & Levin, J. (2015). Oklahoma study of educator supply and demand: Trends and projections. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “In June 2014, the Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education (OSRHE) commissioned American Institutes for Research (AIR) to conduct a study to better understand both historical and future predicted trends of educator supply and demand across Oklahoma. OSRHE commissioned the study in partnership with the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation (OCTP); the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE); and the Oklahoma Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (OACTE). The study was to include primarily an examination of how patterns of supply and demand vary by teaching subject area and geographic location. The representatives of all of these agencies wanted the study to address a total of 15 research questions. AIR addressed these research questions through a series of five separate analyses. These analyses include the following: (1) trends in the educator pipeline; (2) trends in educator certification; (3) trends in educator mobility; (4) future projections; and (5) additional analyses. The results of these analyses are contained within this report.”

Goff, P., Carl, B., & Yang, M. (2018). Supply and demand for public school teachers in Wisconsin. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Center for Education Research, School of Education, University of Wisconsin–Madison. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “A pervasive challenge for Wisconsin and states across the nation is accurate assessment of teacher labor supplies at the state and local levels. Demand measures based on predictions of changing teacher and student demographics have been wildly inaccurate. This report presents findings on key features of the Wisconsin teacher labor market, including mobility, attrition, supply, and demand. The authors use data from multiple sources (including state staffing and credentialing files, application and vacancy information, and statewide survey data on perceptions of staffing challenges) to: (1) establish a common vocabulary around categories of labor supply—specifically which positions are high supply, which are medium supply, and which are low supply; (2) provide a baseline against which subsequent reports can build and future policies can be assessed; (3) provide a common base of empirical evidence to focus and foster debate; and (4) identify aspects of the teacher labor market that are problematic. This report provides evidence on teacher supply and demand in Wisconsin to help policymakers see which avenues are available to influence the complex dynamics of differential mobility, attrition, licensure, and selection across educator labor markets. This portrait of Wisconsin’s teacher labor market illustrates and defines key features to create a common understanding and vocabulary to engage emerging and persistent challenges. The authors organized this report around the following questions: (1) What are the prevailing trends in teacher attrition and mobility?; (2) What is the current supply of teachers?; (3) How are districts responding to staffing challenges?; and (4) Is there a teacher shortage in Wisconsin?”

Levin, J., Berg-Jacobson, A., Atchison, D., Lee, K., & Vontsolos, E. (2015). Massachusetts study of teacher supply and demand: Trends and projections. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “In April 2015, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) commissioned American Institutes for Research (AIR) to develop a comprehensive set of 10-year projections of teacher supply and demand in order to inform planning for future workforce needs. This included state-level projections both in the aggregate, as well as for a variety of disaggregated categories, including assigned program area, teacher race and age, and geographic areas across the state. AIR collaborated with representatives from ESE’s Office of Planning and Research as well as the Center for Educator Effectiveness to develop research questions that target the needs of policymakers and teacher-preparation programs. The study examined the following: (1) Aggregate projections of annual demand; (2) Aggregate projections of annual supply; (3) Detailed supply and demand projections by program area; (4) Detailed supply and demand projections by teacher demographic groups; and (5) Detailed supply and demand projections by region. The results of these analyses, including supporting tables and figures, are contained within this report. In addition, the results of each analysis are tied to relevant policy implications. Three appendices are included: (1) Technical Description of Methods; (2) Additional Findings and Exhibits; and (3) Validation Testing.”

Lindsay, J. J., Wan, Y., & Gossin-Wilson, W. (2009). Methodologies used by Midwest Region states for studying teacher supply and demand (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2009–No. 080). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “This report describes how state education agencies in the Midwest Region monitor teacher supply, demand, and shortage; details why they monitor these data; and offers estimates of the monetary costs incurred in performing such studies. This study responds to a request from state education agencies in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) to learn more about teacher supply and demand studies conducted in neighboring states. The study aimed to determine: (1) what motivates states to assess teacher supply and demand; (2) what methodologies do Midwest Region states employ to monitor teacher supply and demand; (3) what the costs are of various state approaches. The study found that state education agencies conduct teacher supply and demand studies to comply with federal laws and regulations, including provisions of part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, federal regulations on loan deferment or forgiveness programs and scholarships, and Title II requirements of the Higher Education Act. Appended are: (1) Descriptions of codes of federal regulation and federal law related to teacher shortage areas; (2) The literature review for forecast models; (3) Interview questions; and (4) Data reported in most recent teacher supply and demand reports, by Midwest Region state.”

Lindsay, J., Wan, Y., Berg-Jacobson, A., Walston, J., & Redford, J. (2016). Strategies for estimating teacher supply and demand using student and teacher data (REL 2017–197). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Every year the U.S. Department of Education reports for each state in the country the grade levels, subject areas, and geographic areas that have experienced teacher shortages (U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, 2015). A teacher shortage occurs when the number of teachers available in a specific grade, subject matter or discipline classification, or geographic area—teacher supply—is less than the number of teachers required in that grade, subject matter or discipline classification, or geographic area—teacher demand. States are required to report shortages to the U.S. Department of Education each year to qualify for federal programs that allow states to offer teachers incentives, such as loan deferment, loan cancelation, and scholarships, to teach in shortage areas. Some states, including Minnesota, require their state education agency to go beyond reporting teacher shortage areas to producing a detailed analysis of teacher staffing patterns (Lindsay, Wan, & Gossin-Wilson, 2009). By law the Minnesota Department of Education must conduct a multimethod teacher supply and demand study every two years (Minnesota Statute § 127A.05, subd. 6, 2015). The law requires the department to administer a biennial survey of school districts and a survey of teacher preparation institutions, report findings on patterns of shortages by subject area and region, and produce five-year projections of teacher demand by district. Between 2005 and 2011 the Minnesota Department of Education repeated the same teacher supply and demand study, administering similar surveys and performing similar analyses. Many education stakeholders in Minnesota called for a redesign of the study to change it from an unfocused compilation of summaries of data analyses to a report that answered explicit research questions. Minnesota members of the Midwest Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance partnered with a technical assistance team from Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest to redesign Minnesota’s teacher supply and demand study to enhance its utility for stakeholders. A four-step process was followed in redesigning the study: (1) Identifying and refining research questions; (2) Identifying data sources and analytic methods to address each research question; (3) Collecting and preparing data for analysis; and (4) Analyzing data and reporting findings. This report describes the steps in more detail, emphasizing the methods for addressing each research question. Because many data elements used for the study are common across states, this report may help researchers in other states or school districts study teacher staffing patterns in their jurisdictions.”

Minnesota Department of Education. (2017). Teacher supply and demand report. Roseville, MN: Author. Retrieved from

From the Purpose and Executive Summary: “Every two years, the Educator Licensing Division of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is tasked with producing a report on the supply and demand of teachers. By statute, that report must contain data collected by surveying Minnesota public school districts, charter schools, and teacher preparation institutions. (Minn. Stat. § 127A.05 subd. 6). The commissioner of education shall survey the state’s school districts and teacher preparation programs and report to the education committees of the legislature by February 1 of each odd-numbered year on the status of teacher early retirement patterns, the access to effective and more diverse teachers who reflect the students under section 120B.35, subdivision 3, paragraph (b), clause (2), enrolled in a district or school, the teacher shortage, and the substitute teacher shortage, including patterns and shortages in subject areas and the economic development regions of the state. The report must also include: aggregate data on teachers’ self- reported race and ethnicity; data on how districts are making progress in hiring teachers and substitutes in the areas of shortage; and a five-year projection of teacher demand for each district, taking into account the students under section 120B.35, subdivision 3, paragraph (b), clause (2), expected to enroll in the district during that five-year period.”

Suckow, M. A., & Lau, P. P. (2018). Teacher supply in California: A report to the Legislature. Sacramento, CA: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Determining teacher supply in California is essential for policymakers as they analyze how current statutes and policies impact teacher recruitment, teaching incentives and teacher preparation. This report provides data collected by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (Commission) and addresses several questions regarding the supply of teachers newly available to teach in California classrooms. Education Code §44225.6 (Assembly Bill 471, Chap. 381, Stats. 1999) requires the Commission to report to the Governor and the Legislature each year on the number of teachers who received credentials, authorizations, permits and waivers. The report includes the type and number of documents initially issued authorizing service to teach in California public schools or schools under public contract for fiscal year 2016-17. The report responds to the requirements specified in statute and provides a tool for policymakers and others interested in teacher supply.”

Sutcher, L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Carver-Thomas, D. (2016). A coming crisis in teaching? Teacher supply, demand, and shortages in the U.S. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute. Retrieved from

From the abstract: “Recent media reports of teacher shortages across the country are confirmed by the analysis of several national datasets reported in this brief. Shortages are particularly severe in special education, mathematics, science, and bilingual/English learner education, and in locations with lower wages and poorer working conditions. Shortages are projected to grow based on declines in teacher education enrollments, coupled with student enrollment growth, efforts to reduce pupil-teacher ratios, and ongoing high attrition rates.

If attrition were reduced by half to rates comparable to those in high-achieving nations, shortages would largely disappear. We describe evidence-based policies that could:

  • create competitive, equitable compensation packages for teachers;
  • enhance the supply of qualified teachers for high-need fields and locations;
  • improve retention, especially in hard-to-staff schools; and
  • develop a national teacher supply market.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Teacher supply and demand

  • “Teacher shortage” “educational policy”

Databases and Search Engines

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched IES and Google Scholar.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published over the last 15 years, from 2003 to present, were included in the search and review.

  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations.

  • Methodology: We used the following methodological priorities/considerations in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order, (b) target population, samples (e.g., representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected), study duration, and so forth, and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Midwest) at American Institutes for Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Midwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007, administered by American Institutes for Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.