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New SREB Study Examines Teacher Trends

While new pathways into the teaching profession appear promising in attracting fresh educators, teacher vacancies, shortages, and morale have continued to worsen in recent years, according to a new report from the Southern Regional Education Board.

Megan BorenMegan Boren"The goal of the research is to offer insights for education leaders and policymakers as they target solutions specific to their states and districts," said Megan Boren, the project manager who leads SREB's teacher workforce policy efforts. "The findings suggest focusing on ways to prepare, support and reward educators appropriately."

Teacher Labor Market Trends: Insights from Two Southern States,” a study conducted with researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education, analyzes data in Kentucky and Tennessee over the last decade.

The report found, for example, that the teacher workforce is aging. More teachers overall were older than 50 in 2023 than in 2017 in both Kentucky and Tennessee. Although a larger share of male teachers and teachers of color entered the profession through alternative prep options designed for people without an undergraduate degree in education.

The data show common challenges including decreased supply of ready, willing, and qualified teachers to lead classrooms and prepare U.S. school children to eventually enter the workforce. The report’s findings also point to three strategies reinforced in much of the research as key to balancing the supply and demand of skilled teachers: prepare, support and reward educators appropriately.

The report suggests that, to stop the trend of increasing early-career turnover, policymakers can ensure that alternative and traditional routes into teaching are held to strict accountability standards for the requisite knowledge and skills of incoming educators.

“If we don’t broaden our horizon, we’re setting ourselves up for even worse problems tomorrow,” said SREB President Dr. Stephen L. Pruitt. “We have got to think ahead because the changes that work won’t happen overnight.”

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