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Teacher Workforce

Leading Educators Endorses Bi-Partisan Legislation to Address National Educator Workforce Shortages

February 7, 2023 | Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. —This week, U.S. Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) and Zach Nunn (R-IA-03) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced bicameral and bipartisan legislation to collect demographic data on public school teachers and principals to improve the accuracy of educator workforce data. The Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act would establish a permanent, national mechanism to collect teacher and principal data at the school district level to assist in the recruitment and retention of educators.

The legislation stems from research showing that all students benefit from a high-quality, diverse educator workforce, and that students of color with at least one same-race teacher often have improved academic performance, attendance, graduation rates, and aspiration to attend college.

Current solutions to address both educator workforce shortages and diversity gaps use incomplete data that is not easily accessible. Without a national dataset, legislators cannot identify which schools need the most help, nor can they evaluate the effectiveness of federal investments in recruitment and retention programs like the Teacher Quality Partnership and the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence.  Access to educator workforce data is necessary to track the impact of federal dollars in schools, as well as boost efforts to increase educator diversity.

“Research shows that a good teacher matters more to student achievement than any other school-related factor,” said Rep. Cartwright. “That is why we must take steps to address our nationwide teacher shortage. The Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act would direct the Department of Education to collect and centralize educator data to help policymakers and stakeholders produce data-informed policies to address nationwide teacher shortages, and strengthen the educator workforce, to better serve our nation’s students.”

“As a dedicated teacher, the Strengthening Workforce Data Act will provide legislators with the knowledge and data needed to create meaningful change within our classrooms and communities. We are seeing a desperate need to increase the educator workforce in Pennsylvania and this bill ensures that legislators and the needs of teachers are heard and respected in shaping the future of education,” said Laura Sosik, Teach Plus Senior National Policy Advisory Board Member and 2nd-grade educator at Isaac Tripp Elementary School in Scranton.

Specifically, the Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act would direct the Department of Education (Department) to collect the following data from public schools, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and sex:

  • The number of full-time principals employed and the median years of experience across the full-time principals employed, disaggregated by years of experience;
  • The number of full-time preschool and K-12 teachers employed, disaggregated by years of experience; and
  • The number of full-time teachers who hold State certificates, licenses, or endorsements in mathematics, science, English as a second language, and special education—all hard to staff subject areas.

This data would then be published through the Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection and made publicly available. The bill would ensure privacy is protected, and individually identifiable information about teachers and principals would remain confidential.

Accurate and accessible data will help to produce data-informed policies to address nationwide teacher shortages, which will allow stakeholders and policymakers to better serve students by strengthening and diversifying the educator workforce. Currently, at least 30 states and the District of Columbia publish race or ethnicity demographics of their teacher workforce, and 36 states have funded or established initiatives to support educator retention.

“Our students, particularly students of color, perform better when taught and cared for by a diverse range of educators and administrators,” said Senator Durbin. “As our country faces educator workforce shortages, it is essential that we reach out to, recruit, and retain educators that share the background of their students.  With the bicameral, bipartisan Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act, we can take a step forward in this process by examining the demographics of our current workforce so we can invest in effective recruitment and retention programs.”

“Schools across the country, including in Iowa, are having difficulty finding and retaining qualified teachers,” said Rep. Nunn. “We must address the nationwide teacher shortage to ensure every child has access to a quality education, no matter their zip code. The Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act is a commonsense approach to strengthen the workforce and provide better opportunities for all students.”

“The country is facing an alarming rate of educator shortages. Stakeholders, school districts and policymakers across the country are racing to create policy solutions to target these complex issues,” said Kira Orange Jones, CEO of Teach Plus. “However, without comprehensive, uniform data on educators across the country, we cannot make decisions that are efficient, effective and responsible. The bicameral, bipartisan Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act will allow policymakers at all levels of government to use this data to make informed decisions on how to best support students, teachers, and schools across the country.”

Co-sponsors in the U.S. House are U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore (WI-04), Joe Morelle (NY-25), Kevin Mullin (CA-15), David Trone (MD-06), Jill Tokuda (HI-02).

The Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act has also earned support from Teach Plus, American Federation of Teachers, National Council on Teacher Quality, The Education Trust, National Association of Elementary School Principals, The New Teacher Project, New Leaders, National Center for Learning Disabilities, Educators for Excellence, National Center for Teacher Residencies, Center for Black Educator Development, Latinos for Education, The Sikh Coalition, EDGE Consulting Partners, Leading Educators, and Opportunity Culture @ Public Impact.

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