Reports outline research-based actions to address Tennessee’s teacher shortage

NASHVILLE —The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) released the third installment in a series of reports exploring trends behind challenges in Tennessee’s educator labor market. The series offers research-based solutions and actionable steps school districts can take to attract and retain teachers.

Strategic School Staffing: Tennessee’s Opportunity To Sustain And Elevate Great Teaching, released this week, highlights key research, examines case studies, and explores strategic staffing models that attract, support, and retain educators. SCORE also hosted a SCORE Institute webinar examining the findings in this report with national experts.

“This body of research presents a vision for how Tennessee can respond to the teacher shortage in a more comprehensive way, which includes implementing proven strategies and reimagining teacher roles,” said SCORE’s Senior Director of Networks and Partnerships Karen Lawrence. “We need to leverage existing data and evidence-based approaches in Tennessee schools so that all students have access to a more reliable, effective and diverse educator workforce.”

The report highlights key research that explains why strategic staffing models are a promising and innovative practice that districts should adopt as part of their recruitment and retainment strategies.

Key takeaways include:

  • Districts and schools have an opportunity to integrate long-standing educator talent research through innovative staffing models.
  • Tennessee has a strong foundation for taking action on research and emerging innovations in strategic staffing to support both the health of the educator pipeline and student outcomes.

Previous papers in the series explore Tennessee-specific data and perspectives. The first, Understanding The Educator Labor Market: A Look At Tennessee’s Data, highlights key educator labor market insights from 15 Tennessee school districts in partnership with the Tennessee Education Research Alliance (TERA) at Vanderbilt University. 

Key findings include:

  • The 15 districts lose one in five early-career teachers, with many teachers citing the need for additional support.
  • Most districts in the study hire more than 75 percent of their teachers from three or fewer educator preparation programs.
  • Even though educator compensation is rising, salary is not the primary reason teachers leave.

The second paper in the series, Rural District Leader Perceptions Of The Educator Labor Market, expands on those insights by diving deeper into rural district leaders’ perspectives on educator labor market challenges. 

Key findings include:

  • More than 80 percent of rural district leaders in our sample do not believe Tennessee’s teacher pipeline is producing enough effective educators.
  • More than 75 percent of rural district leaders in our sample do not believe their district has access to the number of effective educators it needs to support students.
  • Nearly 70 percent of rural district leaders in our sample do not believe Tennessee has strong policies and strategies in place to support the teaching pipeline.

These reports outline a vision for how Tennessee can not only address teacher shortages but also take the lead in leveraging data to support innovative practices, sustain the educator workforce, and ensure all students have reliable and equitable access to effective teachers.