BATON ROUGE, La. – Members of the Louisiana Board of Regents (Regents) and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) received a preliminary report from the Teacher Recruitment, Recovery and Retention Task Force (Task Force) this month, elevating discussions of solutions to address multiple years of declining enrollments in teacher preparation programs around the state and across the nation. The Task Force, created through House Concurrent Resolution 39 (Mincey) of the 2021 Legislative Session, is charged to study, for a period of two years, strategies and best practices to increase the employment and retention of teachers statewide.
“Teaching is the profession that creates all others, so strengthening our educator pipeline is critical,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Kim Hunter Reed. “At a time when the premium on knowledge is higher than ever, we face a teacher shortage, with fewer students preparing to be teachers and even fewer teachers remaining in the classroom, especially among minority populations. Understanding these challenges and targeting solutions to address them is our charge and is at the heart of this legislative call to action,” said Reed.
“In a time of uncertainty, as Louisiana seeks to recover from multiple disruptions to education, we are certain of the value of educators in the classroom,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “We are committed to increasing the pipeline of great teachers to ensure students have access to the highest quality educators our state can provide.”
The Task Force, consisting of 17 stakeholders, including leaders in various secondary, postsecondary, professional education organizations as well as community representatives, spent the last five months reviewing local, state and national data to investigate Louisiana’s teacher workforce. HCR 39 included 21 questions for the Task Force to consider. Today’s baseline report responds to 11 of those questions in order to provide a clear picture of current data and trends. Highlights include:
Of Louisiana’s 44,000 teachers in AY 2019-20, 24% teach out of their field or are not certified, the majority in Mathematics and Science. (Source: Louisiana Department of Education)
60% of Louisiana’s teachers are white females, with only 5% identifying as African American. (Source: Louisiana Department of Education)
Louisiana had approximately 12,600 students enrolled in teacher education programs for AY 2020-21 compared to 17,898 in AY 2011-12. Additionally, 2,743 students completed teacher education programs in AY 2020-21 compared to 3,231 in AY 2011-12, revealing declines in both enrollment and completion over the past decade. (Source: Statewide Student Profile System, Regents, September 2021)
Exit interviews with teachers leaving the profession in Louisiana indicate 74% of teachers are retiring, transferring to another school system or leaving the profession due to personal reasons. Meanwhile a national survey showed 32% of teachers say they plan to leave the classroom earlier than expected, suggesting burnout post-pandemic. (Source: Gosner, 2021)
In response to the trend data included in the preliminary report, the Task Force presented close to 30 recommendations across three categories (Recruitment, Recovery and Retention), which will assist LDOE and Regents in reviewing current policies, creating new programs to recruit prospective teachers in high school, establishing guidance and direction through students’ college years and giving targeted support during the first five years of an educator’s teaching career. Members of both Regents and BESE expressed support for the shared goal of developing a larger, more effective workforce of prepared teachers over time.
With the adoption of the Task Force report, the recommendations will be forwarded to the legislature no later than January 2022. The Task Force will continue to meet bi-monthly and intends to host statewide listening sessions with educators, expand pre-educator pathway strategies in high schools, invest and promote the para-to-teacher model and develop strategies for recruiting teachers of color into educators preparation programs. The Task Force will present its final report in December 2022.