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Success Story: Solving the Teacher Shortage in West Virginia Collaboratively

Introduction and Background

The Region 5 Comprehensive Center (R5CC) worked with the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) to facilitate the work of the Educator Preparation Taskforce. The Educator Preparation Taskforce was a unique collaborative effort between the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and WVDE, including a diverse stakeholder group convened by Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System and Chancellor of the Higher Education Policy Commission, and West Virginia Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. In November 2020, Dr. Tucker and Superintendent Burch charged the Taskforce with the goal of clearly defining and identifying mechanisms to address the multifaceted challenges that face teacher recruitment and preparation in West Virginia.

To help the Taskforce meet this goal, the R5CC team, in partnership with WVDE, adopted key guiding principles:

  • Co-create a yearlong process with WVDE focused on determining root causes of the teacher shortage and encouraging broad stakeholder engagement in imagining actionable solutions by year’s end;
  • Provide coaching supports to WVDE taskforce facilitators to ensure an aligned approach to problem identification, root cause analysis, and solution identification across each of the taskforce’s subcommittees; and
  • Facilitate the development of a taskforce brief that clearly delineated the necessary steps toward addressing the root causes.

Over 12 months, the Taskforce met in small subcommittees (i.e., Teacher Recruitment, Innovation in Education Preparation, and Effectiveness in Teacher Preparation) and participated in full convenings to deeply explore the root causes of state and local teacher shortages and develop recommendations that address shortages and promote equity and positive student outcomes.

Timeline and Supports

WVDE followed general recommendations for creating a task force, such as appointing a task force leader, selecting task force members, communicating vision and goals, creating a timeline and agenda, and establishing formal documentation. The table below details how R5CC worked alongside WVDE to build facilitator capacity to sustain focused stakeholder engagement, align task force thinking with evidence-based research, and ensure each subcommittee made meaningful progress across 12 months.

Timeline and supports between the Region 5 Comprehensive Center and the West Virginia Department of Education


Region 5 Comprehensive Center

West Virginia Department of Education

November - December 2020


Task Force Steering Committee

Cross-organizational committee identifies stakeholders, task force charge, and timeline.

November 2020

Task Force Implementation Planning

R5CC identifies a yearlong approach to problem identification, root-cause analysis, and solutioning processes laid out to guide task force activities, and provides related facilitator resources


January 2021

Facilitator Coaching Supports

R5CC provides 1:1 coaching supports to orient facilitators to the problem-identification and root-cause analysis processes and related facilitator resources

Task Force Initial Convening

WVDE provides task force members with a high-level overview of the problem, the task force charge, and identifies targeted areas for subcommittee work

February - April 2021

Session Monitoring, Debriefs, and Ongoing Coaching Supports

R5CC attends all committee meetings, monitors pace and progress, and provides ongoing 1:1 implementation supports to subcommittee facilitators

Subcommittee Meetings

WVDE facilitates processes for each subcommittee to reach consensus on a problem statement, conduct a root-cause analysis, and validate contributing factors with research and data

May 2021


Full Task Force Convening

acilitators share each subcommittee’s problem statement and root causes and use a whole-group protocol designed to capture broad stakeholder feedback, additional resources, and perspectives.

June - September 2021

Identification of Evidence-Based Practices and Provision of Ongoing Coaching Supports

R5CC provides ongoing 1:1 implementation supports and identifies best practices to inform each subcommittee’s development of a theory of action.

Monthly Subcommittee Meetings

WVDE facilitates subcommittees to generate proposed activities and strategies to support a theory of improvement.

October 2021


Full Task Force Convening

Facilitators share each subcommittee’s theory of improvement and proposed activities and strategies.

October - December 2021

Draft Task Force Brief

In partnership with the WVDE, R5CC drafts, refines, and finalizes the task force brief, based on each subcommittee’s proposed recommendations.


December - January 2021



Outcomes and Next Steps

A survey of stakeholders’ experience of serving on the Taskforce indicated that greater than 80% were satisfied with the quality and relevance of the activities facilitated by the Taskforce. The efforts of the Taskforce over 12 months resulted in the publication of the Educator Preparation Taskforce Report, which identified five critical challenges to recruiting and preparing enough teachers to fill West Virginia classrooms, outlined actionable recommendations, and proposed priority tasks to address each of these challenges. The next steps for Taskforce members are to work collaboratively with stakeholders to implement the priority tasks outlined in the Taskforce Report.