Report: Oregon most attractive state for teachers

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Report: Oregon most attractive state for teachers

7:04 p.m. PDT September 16, 2016

Though Oregon’s graduation rates are among the lowest in the country and the state is among the lowest in school funding, it must be doing something right.

New research rates Oregon as the most attractive state for teachers.

According to a new report, “A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S.,” Oregon teachers are less interested in leaving their job, they aren’t as worried about job security because of testing, almost all are certified, and the majority feel they have control in their classroom.

The Learning Policy Institute released the analysis of teacher shortages in the United States on Thursday, examining the increasing, national shortage of teachers since the Great Recession, and continuing into recent years.

Each state was compared for the study based on compensation, teacher turnover, working conditions, and teacher qualifications.

The indicators were put into a formula to calculate “teaching attractiveness.” The higher the score on the five-point scale, the better.

Oregon earned a 4.09. The only other state that scored at or above a 4 was Wyoming, at 4.00.

Among the lowest were Arizona and the District of Columbia, both with a rating below 2.

Lori Bielenberg, 54, has taught in Oregon for more than 30 years. She’s spent the past 22 years at Stephens Middle School in Salem.

After hearing about the findings in the report, she said they definitely reflect her experience.

“Oregon’s got a wonderful school system,” she said. “It is different district-by-district, but each has their own (strengths).”

Bielenberg grew up in Oregon and got her first job teaching in the state, prompting her and her husband to stay.

She said she’s stayed in the Salem-Keizer School District specifically because of the art and music programs, and the commitment to AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, a nonprofit that strives to prepare students for college and careers after graduation.

She said Salem has done a particularly good job during her time in the district giving support to the teachers, providing mentors for new, young teachers, offering opportunities for professional development and training, and more.

But with the starting teaching salary in Oregon coming in just over $33,500, Bielenberg said, “good teachers” aren’t in it for the money — they’re in it for the kids.

“I’ve been offered other jobs that would have paid me a lot more, given me a lot more vacation time, but I wouldn’t take those jobs in a million years,” she said.

Bielenberg said there are definitely times where she is tired — tired of working long days, staying up grading, working over the weekend, dealing with parents yelling at her for things outside her control — but she said she’s never second-guessed her decision and desire to teach.

“The day I stop loving teaching is the day I retire,” she said.

The full report, along with the below interactive map, can be found online at www.learningpolicyinstitute.org.

Reports on minority teacher recruitment, employment and retention, and how to attract and retain educators, among others, are also available via the Learning Policy Institute.

Contact Natalie Pate at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist.

Oregon’s stats

  • Average starting salary (2013): $33,549
  • Wage competitiveness ratio (teachers to non-teachers, 2012): 75
  • Percentage of teachers planning to leave as soon as possible (2012): 5.6 percent
  • Teacher attrition (leavers, 2013): N/A, reporting standards not met
  • Teacher turnover (movers and leavers, 2013): 11.9 percent
  • Percentage of teachers who feel supported by their administrator (2012): 56 percent
  • Percentage of teachers worried about job security because of testing (2012): 6 percent
  • Percentage of teachers who report staff cooperation (2012): 46.2 percent
  • Percentage of teachers who feel they have control in their classroom (2012): 82 percent
  • Pupil-teacher ratio (2014): 22.2
  • Percentage of teachers not certified (2014): 0.40 percent
  • Percentage of teachers inexperienced (2014): 9.8 percent
  • Overall teaching attractiveness rating: 4.09

National Teacher Shortage

Teacher demand increased sharply after the Great Recession, according to the recently released report by the Learning Policy Institute. 

And the demand for teachers continues to grow today.

Nationally, between 2009 and 2014, teacher education enrollments dropped from 691,000 to 451,000 — a 35 percent reduction. This is a decrease of almost 240,000 professionals on their way to the classroom in the year 2014, as compared to 2009.

Additionally, the report found “teacher shortages are not felt uniformly across all communities and classrooms, but instead affect some states, subject areas, and student populations more than others, based on differences in wages, working conditions, concentrations of teacher preparation institutions, as well as a wide range of policies that influence recruitment and retention.”

Shortages are particularly severe, according to the report, in special education, mathematics, science and bilingual/English learner education, as well as in locations with lower wages and poorer working conditions.

The report said there are four main factors driving the increasing, national teacher shortage — a decline in teacher preparation, district efforts to return to pre-recession pupil-teacher ratios, increasing student enrollment, and high teacher attrition.

The authors of the report made a list of recommendations to address these concerns, which included policies focusing on better compensation packages for teachers and improving teacher retention through mentorships and others incentives.


Recommendations from the report for easing teacher shortage

The report made the following recommendations on what policies should focus on:

  • Creating competitive, equitable compensation packages that allow teachers to make a reasonable living across all kinds of communities
  • Enhancing the supply of qualified teachers for high-need fields and locations through targeted training subsidies and high-retention pathways
  • Improving teacher retention, especially in hard-to-staff schools, through improved mentoring, induction, working conditions, and career development
  • Developing a national teacher supply market that can facilitate getting and keeping teachers in the places they are needed over the course of their careers
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