As our CSI/TSI/ATSI team maintains our focus on school improvement efforts, recent conversations with district superintendents and other leaders across Nevada describe the stifling condition hampering school improvement efforts at the start of the new school year; the reality of teacher shortages unlike ever experienced before.
According to the USDE's Teacher Shortage Area data, school year 2022-2023 report teacher shortages in all 50 states. The greatest teacher shortages are in schools that serve large numbers of students of color, in subjects like mathematics and science, and students from lower income thresholds.
Although Nevada has experienced ongoing teacher shortages for years, the start of this school year has been especially hard. The tipping point is here. Facets fueling this shortage is the shrinking teacher pipeline, high attrition rates, and increased demand on district administration to stand in for vacant teacher positions which go unfilled even through substitute teaching pools. The challenge for designated schools whether CSI, TSI, or ATSI is that when schools don’t have qualified teachers to fill vacant positions, class sizes increase, course offerings are cancelled, and uncertified individuals (albeit with good intentions) are used to fill positions under the most challenging circumstances. In addition, as we track more deliberately for equity investments time, human resources, or programming within the School Performance Plans (SPP) Roadmaps, teacher attrition propagates unequal learning opportunities and saps district resources.
The tipping point is here. Research by many including Kane and Staiger (2008) emphasizes that teacher qualifications are the most significant predictor of student achievement in a school. So how do we shift the trajectory of the teacher churn in Nevada? In addition to ongoing efforts of competitive compensation, high retention teacher programs, recruitment strategies, our support of CSI/TSI/ATSI school SPP’s are concentrated on identifying supportive working cultures at the school level. What are some of the collaborative and shared leadership opportunities? Are the induction and mentoring opportunities of high quality? Is there supportive site leadership? These are just a few questions we invite district and school leaders to explore and discuss in building out their 2022 SPPs as well in one of the many NDE/WestEd events in our CSI/TSI/ATSI Transformation Series webinars.