September 11, 2015

Commission Meets To Address Indiana's Teacher Shortage

INDIANAPOLIS -- A 50-member commission created by State Superintendent Glenda Ritz met for the first time Friday to begin developing strategies to address Indiana’s teacher shortage. 

Superintendent Ritz made it very clear from the outset of the meeting: the so-called “Blue Ribbon Commission” she assembled is no mere study committee.

“Its purpose is to provide action," Ritz said. "It is to provide strategies toward action so that we can retain the best teachers that we have and we can recruit the best teachers that we need.”

The meeting examined teacher retention.

About 80 percent of Hoosier teachers remained with their school corporation between the 2012-2013 school year and the 2013-2014 school year.  That number gets significantly worse when you look at teachers in schools with a high percentage of minority students, or schools with a high level of poverty. 

As the commission explored potential root causes, Indiana Department of Education specialist Caitlin Beatson provided examples.

“Lack of teacher mentoring and support, nonexistent or nonresponsive professional development, inadequate educator preparation,” Beatson said.

But those examples were based on exit interviews and surveys some schools provided – with several commission members questioning whether they reflected actual conditions and causes.

The panel will only have a few more meetings – likely three or four – to develop its own answers.

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