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 visual 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.

November - December 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February – April 2021

May 2021

June – September 2021

October 2021

October – December 2021

December - January

Policy brief shared with West Virginia Board of Education and West Virginia State Legislature

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.