We Need More Fully Credentialed Teachers

Excerpts from:

Getting Down to Facts II, Technical Report - Teacher Shortages in California: Status, Sources, and Potential Solutions

Linda Darling-Hammond, Leib Sutcher, Desiree Carver-Thomas (Learning Policy Institute)

September 2018

"After many years of budget cuts and staff layoffs, the tide turned in 2013–14, when California brought new, more equitably distributed revenues into the education system as a result of Proposition 30, which expanded revenues, and the LCFF, which redistributed funds based on pupil needs. As funding improved and districts began trying to replace the positions they had lost, teacher hiring increased dramatically. The teacher workforce has expanded steadily over the past 5 years, growing by more than 8%, or 22,000 teachers (see Figure 1)."

"Teacher preparation program enrollments declined by more than 70% between 2002 and 2014 when ongoing budget cuts meant that jobs for new teachers were fewer and further between (see Figure 2). Between 2008 and 2012, more than 100,000 pink slips were issued to teachers warning them they could be laid off. Although most of these teachers were eventually hired back, this highly publicized practice was likely a contributing factor to a diminished supply of college students wanting to go into teaching. Many teachers experiencing multiple lay-offs also decided to find another career path."

"In 2016–17, the most recent data available, California issued more than 12,000 intern credentials, permits and waivers, which comprised roughly half of all credentials issued that year (see Figure 3). In all, the number of substandard credentials increased by 260% from 2012–13 to 2016–17. Emergency-style permits—issued to individuals who have not demonstrated subject-matter competence for courses they are teaching and who typically have not yet entered a teacher training program—have increased by nearly seven-fold since 2012–13 and represent the fastest growing category of substandard teaching authorizations. In 2016–17, 5,700 teachers entered teaching on emergency-style permits, compared to fewer than 900 in 2012–13. These data strongly suggest supply is insufficient to meet teacher demand in the areas where these kinds of permits are being issued."

"Moreover, many districts are relying on the least prepared teachers—those not even enrolled in intern programs—to fill positions. Nearly two thirds of surveyed districts reported hiring teachers on Provisional Intern Permits (PIPs), Short-Term Staff Permits (STSPs), and waivers, and half of those districts hired a greater proportion of teachers on emergency-style permits in fall 2017 than they did the year prior. These permits, which are for “acute” areas of shortage, do not require their holders to have demonstrated competence in the subject matter they will teach or any knowledge about how to teach the subject. In some small, rural districts, all new teachers were hired on emergency-style permits in fall 2017. In some large districts, teachers on emergency-style permits made up as much as 30% of new hires. Interns, who are completing teacher preparation while teaching and are supposed to be receiving mentoring and support, also comprised up to 30% of new hires in some large districts."


"In special education, shortages are a five-alarm fire. The most vulnerable students––students with the greatest needs who require the most expert teachers––are those with the least qualified teachers. According to the GDTF survey data, depicted in Figure 7, nearly 8 in 10 California schools are looking to hire special education teachers, and 87% of principals at those schools reported hiring is a challenge. Although there was a 21% increase in new education specialist preliminary credentials in 2016–17, with more than 2,700 authorizations issued and an additional 700 out-of-state preliminary credentials issued, this increase was not nearly enough to meet demand (see Figure 8)."

"About two thirds of entering California-prepared special education teachers are on substandard credentials (see Figure 9). In total, 4,500 substandard special education/education specialist credentials were issued in 201617, representing the largest total in the last decade. Of these substandard credentials, most (2,500) were emergency-style permits granted to individuals without teacher preparation or subject-matter competence."

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