Open Invitation for Education Leaders to Join Peer-2-Peer Conversations: Session 1 Root Causes and Solutions for Educator Shortages

Submitted on March 22, 2021 by:
Ann Webber
Lori Vandeborne

Region 5 Comprehensive Center invites state educational leaders to join in a conversation around root causes and possible solutions associated with educator shortages.

This past year the pandemic has amplified the growing concern around teacher shortages being experienced by many states. Pressures on educators resulting from the pandemic have contributed to an increase in retirements, a reduction in teacher candidates, and the increased necessity for substitute teachers. Finding substitute teachers has also proven difficult as highlighted by Education Week in The Substitute Teacher Gap: Recruitment and Retention Challenges in the Age of Covid-19.

These problems are not new ones in education; however, the recent educational climate has placed a spotlight on them, and states are responding with new and innovative solutions, as shown in a recent blog post from the Brookings Institution, Rethinking the geography of student-teaching placements in a post-COVID-19 world.

West Virginia’s task force approach to solving this issue was highlighted in a recent Region 5 CC blog post. However, West Virginia is not the only state working on these issues.  All four states in Region 5 are addressing solutions in varying ways:

  • West Virginia recently passed legislation for a new alternative route to certification, as reported in the Huntington Herald Dispatch, Legislature Sends Governor Bill to Reduce Teacher Certification Requirements. The legislation would allow anyone with a bachelor’s degree who has also taken a teaching pedagogy course and passed the state required licensing exam to obtain a teaching license.


  • Virginia has proposed a Teachers Reserve Corps. “The corps would be [voluntary and] made up of retired educators, military veterans, college students hoping to become teachers and people licensed to teach outside of Virginia’s K-12 public education system” (Rodriguez, 2021).


  • Kentucky is working to improve recruitment efforts utilizing the GoTeachKY initiative. Through GoTeachKY, the state is recruiting the next generation of Kentucky educators with a mission to ensure all students across the Commonwealth have equitable access to effective educators (Kentucky Department of Education, 2020).


  • Tennessee is working to improve career pathways for educators through its Grow Your Own ( approach. A new Grow Your Own competitive grant supports partnerships between Educator Preparation Programs (EPP) and Local Education Agencies to provide innovative, no-cost pathways to the teaching profession by increasing EPP enrollment and growing the supply of qualified teachers (Tennessee Department of Education, 2020).

Region 5 Comprehensive Center aims to connect education leaders across the region to access collective knowledge in developing and implementing effective solutions. In order to make this connection, the Region 5 Comprehensive Center will facilitate peer-to-peer conversations to explore in more detail how states are facing common challenges, understand more about the nature of the root causes of those challenges, and provide an arena where state leaders can share potential solutions around their most critical current needs.  

The goal of this session is to encourage a proactive approach for state education leaders to discuss solutions that have worked, identify barriers that may occur and how to avoid them, and to recommend new innovative solutions that have yet to be considered or applied. State education agencies interested in being a part of a solution-oriented peer-to-peer dialogue are invited to contact the Region 5 Comprehensive Center for assistance.