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Arizona Not Currently Tracking Teacher Supply And Demand
At the start of this school year, more than 1,300 Arizona classrooms needed teachers. The shortages are affecting school districts across the country.
But a national study found only 16 states track teacher supply and demand.
“One of the reasons behind this study is we felt more states needed to have this information for policy makers,” said Chad Aldeman, a principal at Bellwether Education Partners. “To respond to their particular situation they need to know what their specific challenges are.”
Aldeman said the most recent report he was able to find was a 2003 study from Arizona State University. Those researchers found that Arizona didn’t have an overall teacher shortage, but instead it would face shortages in specific subject areas like language development.
“This is actually the most recent data from the state – 2003,” he said. “And a lot of this current data already exists. Arizona already tracks how many people are in teacher prep programs, and they already know how many teachers they have … it’s just a matter of linking those areas up and be deliberate in tracking teachers.”
Without specific data, Aldeman said it’s difficult for administrators to plan for the future and for legislators to craft policy that addresses shortages. He said states might consider loan forgiveness programs for new teachers accepting jobs in rural areas or raising pay for science teachers.
This lack of understanding of the problem could also be one reason Arizona has one of the highest teacher turnover rates in the county. About half of Arizona teachers leave the profession within four years.
Aldeman said this puts a huge time and financial stress on districts to recruit new talent.
The Arizona Department of Education did not respond to interview requests on the problem.