West Virginia Sees Unique Collaboration Forming to Find Solutions to Persistent Teacher Shortages

Submitted on February 15, 2021 by:
Matt Finster

A recent WVNews article, “Higher ed, K-12 system to collaborate and address teacher preparation, recruitment and retention in West Virginia,” describes how administrations are coming together to address teacher preparation, recruitment and retention in West Virginia to address a teacher shortage that has faced the state for years.

According to the article, State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch and West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Chancellor Sarah Tucker will work together in the new year to launch a task force addressing faculty shortages by retaining, recruiting and preparing educators in the state. Tucker noted that the collaboration is unique, and the goal is to find ways to address the issues facing higher education and K-12 education today.

As part of the process, participating members should consider developing a strategic accountability approach to retaining teacher talent and managing educator turnover. This approach entails identifying benchmarks and goals for retention, identifying the primary causes of teacher turnover, and mapping causes to specific retention strategies. This approach is discussed in two briefs: “Identifying, Monitoring, and Benchmarking Teacher Retention and Turnover and “Diagnosing Causes of Teacher Retention, Mobility and Turnover and Matching to Interventions.”

State education agencies, districts and schools also need data to understand and predict teacher shortages. “An Approach to Using Student and Teacher Data to Understand and Predict Teacher Shortages” describes collaborative efforts by Regional Educational Laboratory Central and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop and implement a teacher workforce model that predicts teacher shortages by subject area, grade level, and geographic region. The approach uses widely available software and can be adapted by education agencies that wish to understand and predict teacher shortages in their context.

Given working conditions influence the overall quality of teaching and are commonly cited as a primary reason for teacher mobility and attrition, staff at all levels will want to consider how to invest in teaching and learning conditions that influence effectiveness and retention. This recent report highlights “How Teaching and Learning Conditions Affect Teacher Retention and School Performance in North Carolina” the importance of working conditions, such as, teacher and school leadership, professional learning and collaboration, community support and parent engagement, teachers’ collective practice and efficacy, time for teaching, and student conduct. The report also provides policy strategies to enable teachers to do their work more effectively.

For additional resources, REL Midwest has compiled a list of research references on methodological approaches used to measure and understand teacher retention. 

R5CC staff can support SEAs in assessing and addressing any of these needs.