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USDOE-Documented Teacher Shortages by State, 1990-2016

August 14, 2016

Each year, states are able to file reports with the US Department of Education (USDOE) regarding teacher shortage areas (TSAs) in each state/territory. Teachers in critical-need areas qualify for federal loan forgiveness and/or loan deferment.

The attached file also allows one to view state (and US territory)-identified (and federally verified) teacher shortages by state across 25 school years (1990-91 to 2015-16). Shortages are identified by subject area; some states/territories also identify shortages by school systems.

Teacher Shortage Areas 1990-2016 PDF

Let’s take a moment to focus on Utah since it has been in the news of late for a move supposedly to address its teacher shortage:

Beginning Monday, August 15, 2016, Utah districts will be able to hire college graduates who pass a subject area test and who have no prior teaching experience or training, purportedly to address Utah’s pressing teacher shortage.

The catch is that veteran teachers will have to mentor the novices for three years.

According to Utah’s report of its teacher shortage areas in the USDOE PDF above, the state’s move to nix any requirement of formal pedagogical training and classroom internship prior to employment does not appear solidly justified. On the contrary, the move appears on its face to promote teacher exit by placing an additional administrative burden on Utah’s veteran teaching force.

Here are Utah’s teacher shortage areas for 2015-16 as noted in the USDOE PDF:

  • Foreign Language (Chinese and Dual Immersion)
  • Mathematics (Level 4)
  • Physics
  • Special Education – Severe Disabilities
  • Speech Language Pathology

Utah included no listing of critical need school systems.

An unanticipated byproduct of Utah’s new, 3-years-mentored teacher move could be that it drives increasingly-worked veterans outside of the classroom. Of course, the policy could also flounder as veteran teachers decline to participate.

But let us end our focus on Utah.

The USDOE PDF has 174 pages of longitudinal teacher shortage information to peruse on the other 49 states, DC, and US territories.

All but one state listed teacher shortage areas for 2015-16; many include special education, English as a second language, bilingual education, foreign language, mathematics, art (or the arts).

Only Pennsylvania identified “no significant teacher shortages” for 2015-16:

An anomaly in this age of slashing education budgets and grading teachers using student test scores.

teacher desk 2


Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. In Pennsylvania, we avoid teacher shortages by shedding jobs at the rate of a few thousand a year. Our other indicators are similar to what you find in other states– enrollment in teacher education programs has dropped precipitously, to the point that some programs have been shut down or drastically scaled back. And in many districts you can’t find a teacher with fewer than three or four years in the classroom. Something will bust soon– it doesn’t take an economic genius to figure out that this is making teaching staff’s unusually expensive , and at some point schools will stop cutting, turn to the teacher pipeline and find… nothing.

  2. I saw this article yesterday and sent it to Dr Ravitch. Yours and her columns are the ones I read daily . I applaud you for all that you do. I am a retired 30 year+ RI public school teacher and see the mess in my own state. I fought the fight but old age and stress is not making things get any better and I can’t fight the fight any more like I used to- for the younger teachers here. Thank you for all you do and PS/ I was so sorry to see the flooding of your state. You don’t seem to be catching a break….jo ann

  3. Jack permalink

    Doesn’t requiring veteran teachers to mentor these clueless amateurs — without those vets getting paid & whether those vets want to mentor or not — collide head-on the with the free market competition-among-teachers principles inherent in merit pay? (Does Utah have merit pay?)

    If a veteran teacher who is struggling financially to feed her/his family (or pay off his / her student loans or take care of an aging parent, or whatever) is simultaneously compelled to compete for pay with those other teachers (including the clueless amateurs) in a zero-sum-game, dog-eat-dog, merit-bay-based competitive system, WHY ON EARTH WOULD HE OR SHE BE INCLINED TO HELP ANY OTHER TEACHER IN DEVELOPING OR IMPROVING THEIR TEACHING? Wouldn’t a teacher be disinclined to engage in mentoring when doing so would mean a loss in pay for him or her, and a gain for the teacher whom he or she is mentoring — since the pot of merit pay money is finite, and again, it’s a zero sum game … money lost by one is money gained by another?

    They didn’t think this one through.

    • Threatened out West permalink

      Utah does not have merit pay. A bill passed this last legislative session to allow for “Teacher Leaders,” but NO money was allotted for that. I expect that the “teacher mentors” will be a forced position, with perhaps a tiny stipend. That’s the way Utah does it–make people feel like terrible teachers if they don’t do all kinds of jobs that are unpaid. After all, we have to “prove” that we’re “not just in it for the money,” and, “It’s all about the kids.”

      Utah isn’t covered nearly enough in the national blogs on education, but it SHOULD be. We are the canary in the coal mine for the other states. We’ve been dealing with “reform” for nearly 30 years now, and most of what is happening today in other states has been happening in Utah for decades.

    • Threatened out West permalink

      Utah’s evaluation to the test requirement was actually dropped in this last legislative session. That’s a tiny bit of good news.

  4. Jack permalink

    Here’s a novel argument that the proponents used to justify putting totally untrained, unlicensed teachers in classrooms:
    “We should maintain a sense of humility about the (teaching) profession. Good teaching and learning are human activities that existed long before current teacher preparation programs.”

    — Christine Cooke, from the Sutherland Institute
    (from testimony given in favor a Utah state bill
    removing all qualifications for teaching)

    Really now?

    By that logic, since “medicine”, in primitive form, has existed for thousands of years, it’s okay for those who’ve never had a day of medical training be allowed to practice medicine, or perform surgery.

    Here’s more from the Sutherland Institute:
    “Sutherland also believes that Utah should be brave enough to question the status quo when it is prudent. The teaching profession is ennobled when teachers do a good job in the classroom and are rewarded for it, not when the profession keeps candidates out through licensing traditions.”

    — Christine Cooke, from the Sutherland Institute
    (from an article congratulating the Utah legislature
    for eliminating all requirements for teachers)

    Wow. According to Sutherland, you “ennoble a profession” by removing all licensing and basic requirements to perform it — education, training, state board testing, etc.? Indeed, to do otherwise is just more warped liberal thinking from that selfish, rotten ol’ “status quo” that wrongfully keeps people out of teaching through the use of antiquated “licensing traditions.”

    Up is down, black is white, and we’re going through the Looking Glass.

    The latter quote is here:


    The Utah legislature gives the Sutherland Institute a regular forum to testify at State Senate and State Assembly hearings.

    Okay, so who are the folks at the Sutherland Institute, and what are they all about?


    “Our desire for freedom extends to generations to come and requires Sutherland constantly to educate Utah’s elected officials, community leaders, and electorate in the principles of freedom.

    “Sutherland calls these principles of freedom “authentic conservatism” and has framed authentic conservatism into seven governing principles:

    ” … ”

    “Religion as the moral compass of human progress

    “A free and prosperous Utah requires active religious influence among its people. This means that every Utahn should seek some reflection of the Divine in their purpose in life; that every Utahn should think beyond the moment and themselves to consider the broader context of their existence and their children’s future; that every Utahn should set their personal morality against the backdrop of millennia of universally-held faith-based experiences; that every Utahn should appreciate the religious heritage that gave birth to this state; and, that every Utahn should support public policies that protect religious liberty, integrate universal religious morals and values in our laws, and that publicly express our reverence for religion in our lives.

    ” … ”

    “Limited Government as the essence of good government

    “A free and prosperous Utah requires accountability from its people. This means that every Utahn should seek to expand their personal influence in their community; that every Utahn should seek to solve their own problems and work voluntarily with their neighbors to solve community problems; that every Utahn should well-understand the principles of limited, constitutional government and seek to abide them; and, that every Utahn should support public policies that limit government spending, limit the role of government programs in our lives, limit the authority we delegate to governments, and limit the physical and legal expansion of governmental presence.”

    Bottom line: this is about pushing privatization through charter school expansion, as no trained and licensed teacher will work for the lousy pay and in the lousy conditions that accompanies working in those privatized, non-union schools. SOLUTION: make it so anybody can legally teach … no license or experience or training required.

    It’s also cutting taxes, and to accomplish that, the Sutherland Institute has no problem destroying the quality of public education in the state, and coming with idiotic arguments to do so, and then making them at state legislative hearings.

    It’s funny, though, to read the right-wingers try and put a “we’re-putting-kids-ahead-of-ignoble-adults” gloss on this abomination.

    The more recent pieces that Sutherland Institute has put out on this all make the argument that those opposed to the legislation are just … you guessed it … putting adult’ interests ahead of children’s interests. They claim that those teachers who complain that the recent de-professionalization of teaching “demoralizes” them .. well, they’re just a bunch of self-interested whiners.

    Sutherland argues that the children’s best interest should could always be put ahead of adults’ hurt feelings.

    Here’s some of that in an Sutherland opinion piece printed in several Utah newspapers:

  5. Jack permalink

    Peter “CURMUDGUCATION” Greene has also written about the Utah situation, in his usual satirtical prose style:

  6. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    I have looked at this publication and know how difficult it is to construct any summary. The focus on Utah is easier and Utah is, of course, a good choice precisely because there is NO clear thinking about the educational issues in on-the- job training for those who can pass required tests.
    In any case this is an excellent report. It is really sad that this longitudinal system does not offer some info graphics by region and by subject.

    • Threatened out West permalink

      All I know is that a special education teacher at my school has gotten really sick and can’t come back to school, and there are NO teachers in the interview pool for the school to hire. My district in Utah pays less than many districts, as well as requiring special education teachers to do all of their own paperwork and testing. As a result, we go through special education teachers at a brisk pace, and so there is no one to fill these positions.

      We’ve had issues with math and science teachers as well.

  7. Keep the Arts for Kids permalink

    Pennsylvania used to have vibrant teacher training programs that supplied teachers to PA and many surrounding states. That training opportunity was significantly cut back by our previous Governor who believed that developing teachers, like a commodity, was not an important product for the State to develop. The teacher shortage will soon be hitting PA, and the surrounding states that looked forward to attracting and employing highly trained teachers from PA.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Utah: New Teachers No Longer Need Training or Experience | Diane Ravitch's blog

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