EdNC – Equitable access to effective educators emerges as priority for North Carolina

Equitable access to effective educators emerges as priority for North Carolina

By Mebane Rash - Posted Mar 16, 2022

“Students in high-poverty schools are about half as likely to have access to highly effective teachers, compared to students in low-poverty schools,” said Johanna Anderson, executive director of The Belk Foundation, at a recent convening of their board of directors and education stakeholders.

This is not a new data point, but strategies are emerging to address it given vacancies in local labor markets for those working in schools and districts, and an initiative to redesign teacher licensure, support, advancement, and pay structures in North Carolina.

Calling for more on-ramps into the teaching profession, state Superintendent Catherine Truitt said, “Opening these doors into the profession for our teachers can turn into opening the doors of opportunity for our students.”

This policy conversation is not just about more teachers, it is about more effective teachers and whether they end up in the classrooms and schools that need them most.

A lesson in local supply and demand

Although often talked about on the statewide or even the national level, labor markets for teachers tend to be local and regional. Teachers work close enough to where they live that they can drive to school each day.

In North Carolina, during the 2020-21 school year, teacher attrition (those leaving the profession) was up only slightly and teacher mobility (those moving among districts) was down compared to the previous three school years. We are all holding our collective breath to see if that holds true for 2021-22.

And while teacher vacancies appear to be up, the N.C. Department of Public Instructions says it could be because of an increase in the number of positions given the influx of federal funding.

But statewide data often masks labor market challenges at the school and district level.

Getting more specific about the trends in teacher recruitment and retention and focusing on “pinchpoints” is important to finding solutions that increase access to effective teachers, said Dr. Dan Goldhaber, director of the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER), speaking to the Belk Foundation board and stakeholders. Goldhaber’s research looks at shortages driven by geography, challenges of particular schools, and by area of teacher specialization.

Recently, North Carolina’s report on the state of the teaching profession in 2020-21 was released.

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