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New report helps education leaders pinpoint and address teacher shortages

New report helps leaders address teacher shortages

By Cora Goldston
September 19, 2019

District and state education leaders know that teacher shortages can have far-reaching and long-lasting negative effects, not just for students but for the surrounding communities as well. However, making sense of statewide data to pinpoint where teachers are most needed is no easy task.

To inform district and state planning efforts, Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest and the Midwest Alliance to Improve Teacher Preparation (MAITP) studied recent trends and projected future trends in teacher supply and demand in Michigan. The study found that some subject areas and regions of the state are expected to experience teacher shortages between 2018/19 and 2022/23. However, Michigan’s total teacher supply is expected to meet overall demand.

>> Read and download the full report

Understanding trends in Michigan teacher supply, demand, and shortages

Michigan education leaders wanted to learn more about teacher shortages to inform policies and practices concerning teacher certification and recruitment. The state is exploring options to expand alternate routes to certification while intensifying the rigor of subject-specific certifications to increase the number of high-quality teachers in the workforce. Michigan is also exploring opportunities to support teacher recruitment in the regions and subject areas with the most need.

At the request of the Michigan Department of Education and MAITP members, REL Midwest conducted a study to explore potential teacher shortages by subject area, school characteristics, socioeconomic context, and geographic region. To analyze trends in teacher demand and supply, the study looked at data on teacher certification, hiring and personnel, and salary as well as student enrollment and vital statistics for Michigan public schools for the 2013/14–2017/18 school years. The study also used regression analysis to project teacher supply and demand trends through 2022/23.

What did the study find?

Total student enrollment declined during the study period, but enrollment increased for some groups.

From 2013/14 to 2017/18, the total number of students in Michigan public schools declined by 3 percent. However, the number of English learner students increased by 27 percent during the same period. In addition, the number of students eligible for the national school lunch program increased by 10 percent between 2016/17 and 2017/18 due to the state expanding direct certification of eligibility.

The number (supply) of full-time equivalent teachers fell during the study period, due in large part to a decrease in English language arts teachers.

The total number of full-time equivalent teachers decreased from 93,699 in 2013/14 to 91,777 in 2017/18. English language arts teachers made up 63 percent of this total reduction. However, teacher supply increased in bilingual education, world languages, and special education.

The number of new teachers who completed traditional teacher preparation programs in Michigan decreased during the study period.

From 2013/14 to 2017/18, the number of newly certified active teachers from in-state teacher preparation programs declined 30 percent. Much of that decrease occurred in the first year of the study period, during which the number of new active teachers from traditional preparation programs fell 15 percent.

The number of teachers receiving long-term substitute permits increased each year from 2013/14 to 2017/18.

Long-term substitute permits allow recipients to teach without completing the normal certification and endorsement requirements. These permits are one way to address teacher demand in high-need subject areas and thus serve as an indicator of teacher shortages. From 2013/14 to 2017/18, career and technical education, world languages, and special education were among the subject areas with the most teachers holding long-term substitute permits.

Some subject areas and regions of the state are projected to see teacher shortages between 2018/19 and 2022/23. However, the total active teacher supply in Michigan public schools is projected to meet demand through 2021/22, with slight shortages projected for 2022/23.

The study projects teacher shortages in at least one year for the following subjects:

  • Business education
  • Career and technical education
  • English language arts
  • General elementary education
  • Special education
  • World languages

In addition, the study analysis projects teacher shortages in the Upper Peninsula and Northwest regions of Michigan and in rural and town districts from 2018/19 to 2022/23. City districts are expected to have a teacher surplus in 2018/19, but as supply and demand change, they are expected to have a 4 percent teacher shortage in 2022/23.

What can we take away from the study?

The study’s findings can inform state and district leaders’ efforts to address teacher shortages and provide high-quality instruction to all Michigan students. State and district leaders can use the findings to bolster teacher preparation, recruitment, and retention in the subject areas and regions that are experiencing or are projected to experience shortages. Although this study focused on Michigan, leaders in other states also can use this information to inform research partnerships and examine teacher supply and demand in their states.

Further, teacher preparation programs can use the findings to align their efforts with local school districts’ areas of need. For example, teacher preparation programs might form partnerships with local districts to understand their specific needs and better prepare teacher candidates to meet those needs.

Related resources

Check out the full report to learn more about the study and its findings.

REL Midwest has several additional resources to inform teacher preparation and workforce efforts:

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Author Information

Cora Goldston Staff Picture

Cora Goldston

Communications Specialist | REL Midwest


Beating the odds (2)

Charter Schools (2)

College and Career Readiness (42)

Data Use (32)

Discipline (4)

Early Childhood (31)

Educator Effectiveness (36)

English Learners (10)

Literacy (11)

Math (1)

Online Courses (7)

Research Tools (2)

Rural (14)

Teacher Preparation (24)

Teacher Recruitment (2)

Teacher Retention (2)

Teacher Workforce (14)

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