Money and Common Sense Are Keys to Teacher Recruitment
It is no mystery how to recruit effective teachers as ample research on the topic is available. Here are four surefire approaches:
1. Offer service scholarships.
According to Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, “Nearly all of the vacancies currently filled with emergency teachers could be filled with talented, well-prepared teachers if 40,000 service scholarships of up to $25,000 each were offered annually” to offset teacher education costs based on merit.
Along these lines, the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program provided $26K in scholarships to high achieving seniors willing to teach in the the state. After 4 years, “80 percent of them stayed in the classroom” and received much higher evaluations when compared to other instructors. Despite national praise, Republican Governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, killed the program’s funding in 2011. Nice job, Governor.
2. Provide targeted support for teaching ELLs and at-risk students.
A 2007 study by Suzanne Painter, Thomas Haladyna, and Sally Hurwitz found that “underperforming” schools with a large ELL population and high poverty are the biggest deterrent to teaching applicants. This speaks to the need for exemplary models of effective ELL and at-risk student instruction to be included in all teacher training programs.
3. Ensure opportunities to collaborate.
The same study found that the second biggest influence on teacher applicants was “opportunities to collaborate” and effective mentoring. Excellent newbie support is a must.
4. Increase incentives, transportation help, and bonuses.
A 2011 study by the OECD recommended that states expand “incentives with substantial salary allowances for teaching in difficult areas, transportation help for teachers in remote areas, or bonuses for teachers with skills in short supply.”
Barriers to Teacher Recruitment
Attracting new teachers will yield no benefits unless we reduce the exodus of instructors leaving the profession within five years—a goal that can only be achieved if we alleviate key professional hardships:
1. We should immediately stop evaluating teachers by VAM scores.
“Analysis of VAM results have led researchers to doubt whether the methodology can accurately identify more and less effective teachers.” Wacko metrics used in Value Added Models penalize good instructors who work with our most vulnerable populations.
2. We should stop narrowing the curriculum to increase standardized test scores.
Mandatory test prep narrows the curriculum. It also makes smart teachers adopt a Kabuki theater-like pretense that bubble-sheet practice is important. That’s soul killing.
3. Teachers need pay increases.
When adjusted for inflation, teacher pay between 1999-2015 has gone down in 21 states. Classroom professionals shouldn’t have to work retail after school in order to make payments on their used Ford Fiestas.
Ultimately, the aforementioned conditions are so oppressive that veteran teachers discourage college students from joining the profession.
Explained a teacher who wrote anonymously to The Washington Post, “I can get paid more, be treated with more respect, work fewer hours, and have more time to spend with my family if I leave education.”
To attract teachers, we need the public will to support service scholarships, increase pay, stop over-testing, and terminate verifiably wrong-headed evaluation practices.