Teacher Shortage Data from DESE Makes Great Case for Course Access Program
Yesterday, the state board of education saw a presentation from representatives from the Department of Elementary and Secondary education on efforts to ensure that every student in the state has access to a high-quality teacher. It detailed efforts afoot to recruit teachers from within districts, to prepare teachers to serve across the state, and to create “equity labs” around the state to brainstorm solutions.
Two slides in the presentation jumped out at me. The first one is above.
Dovetailing nicely with the research I have done on rural schools in Missouri, DESE’s slide shows there are shortages in more than 10 teacher certification categories in 16 counties across the state, and shortages in 43 counties in 5 to 9 categories.
What are these categories, you ask? The next slide tells us.
Want to learn Spanish? Are you a gifted student? Interested in learning science? Live in one of these rural counties? Tough luck.
I commend the efforts that the state is taking to try and tackle this problem, but here at SMI we’ve been promoting a solution for quite some time now that would address these shortage issues—a course access program.
MOVIP has already certified courses in these subject areas. (Check out the list for just grades 6 to 8—its huge!) For $600 a year, students in these counties could take Spanish from a vetted source and get credit for it. All they need is the flexibility to reroute 600 of the dollars that the state sends their district to these alternative providers. Course access would do that. More than a dozen states around the country have figured this out.
The state’s current efforts, while laudable, seem to constitute a complicated and labor-intensive process with a high amount of uncertainty as to whether or not they will be effective. Every once in a while the simpler solution is the best one, and I think in this case Occam’s razor favors course access. If the state wants to solve these shortage issues, the state should seriously look into it.