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Even with Jacksonville State

University located in our county we

still have difficulty locating
enough Physical Science and
Mathematics teachers. As much as
we believe the changes to
emergency certification will help in
this area there are still very few to
no candidates in math, science,
and special education.
We are now beginning to see
deficits in numbers of elementary
candidates. Unless we address this
crisis in a way that encourages and
creates a pool of applicants we are
merely exacerbating the problem
in districts that are already
experiencing shortages.
– Jeff Goodwin,
Oxford City Schools

Ensuring a vibrant educator

pipeline should be the foundation Contents
of Alabama’s workforce
Alabama Teacher Shortage Task Force 2
development efforts.
Failure to lead in this area risks Scope of the Problem 3
success in all others. Task Force Recommendations 4
– Sally Smith, Recruitment 4
Executive Director, Retention 5
Alabama Association of
Conclusion 6
School Boards
Meeting Dates and Topics 6
References 7

I currently have one certified math

teacher in the entire system.
– John Heard,
Perry County Schools
Alabama Teacher Shortage Task Force
The Alabama Teacher Shortage Task Force was established by Alabama State Superintendent
Dr. Eric Mackey to explore the reasons for the teacher shortage in Alabama and to make
recommendations to increase the quantity and quality of applicants for Alabama public schools.
The 18-member Task Force is comprised of local superintendents from across the state as well as
representatives from education associations. The superintendents represent small, large, rural and
urban school systems, as well as each of Alabama’s eight school board districts.
The Task Force adopted the following mission statement: “To develop short-term and long-
term recommendations to increase the quantity and quality of teacher applicants in our
state.” The task force met once a month beginning in January, 2019. Each meeting included
presentations to provide the task force a better understanding of the teacher shortage in
Alabama, tools and programs that could be implemented to help monitor the shortage, and
possible solutions.

Alabama Teacher Shortage Task Force

• Chuck Marcum – Roanoke City Schools Superintendent - Chairman
• Karen DeLano – Auburn City Schools Superintendent
• Mark Dixon, President - A+ Education Partnership
• Caroline Novak, Retired President - A+ Education Partnership
• Pamela Fossett – Education Policy and Professional Practice Manager, Alabama Education Association
• Jeff Goodwin – Oxford City Schools Superintendent
• John Heard – Perry County Schools Superintendent
• Lisa Herring – Birmingham City Schools Superintendent
• Ryan Hollingsworth – Executive Director, School Superintendents of Alabama
• Suzanne Lacey – Talladega County Schools Superintendent
• Jeff Langham – Chief of Staff, ALSDE
• Amy Marlowe – Interim Executive Director, Alabama Education Association
• Matt Massey – Madison County Schools Superintendent
• Susan McKim – Professional Learning, ALSDE
• Nick Moore – Governor’s Office
• Sally Smith – Executive Director, Alabama Association of School Boards
• Ted Watson – Andalusia Schools Superintendent
• Ann West – Marion County Schools Superintendent
• Vic Wilson – Executive Director, Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools

Scope of the Problem
Throughout the nation, there is a teacher shortage, and Alabama is no exception. The teacher
shortage in Alabama is a real and growing problem. As noted by the Education Commission of the
States (ECS Teacher Shortage Series, May 2016) research indicates that teacher shortages are often
specific to subject areas. The same is true for Alabama, with the shortages being most critical in
math, science, and special education. Additionally, shortages are beginning to occur in elementary
schools, an area that has traditionally not been affected by teacher shortages. Two school systems
have recently reported having elementary teaching positions that they cannot fill. The causes of
the teacher shortage in Alabama are complex and multi-dimensional, but can be simplified as a
dramatic decline in interest in entering the profession, a poor historic track record of retaining new
hires, and a decline in retention of veteran educators. As a result, local systems are experiencing
great difficulty locating certified teachers to fill open positions in their systems. Addressing
Alabama’s teacher shortage will not be simple, short-term, or one-dimensional. It will require a
thoughtful, multi-faceted, long-term commitment focused on both recruitment and retention.
Consider the following:

• Nearly every district in Alabama has turned to • 30% of all classrooms are being taught by teachers
hiring teachers on emergency or provisional teaching out of field, having neither a major nor
certificates, indicating that shortages are a minor in the field.
being broadly experienced across the state
(123 of 138 districts).i • Since 2010, there has been a 40% decrease in
students completing. teacher education
• In the 2017-2018 school year, across all grades, there programs.viii This steep decline outpaces trends at
were 1,106 teachers who held emergency or the national level where completion rates declined
provisional certificates.ii In Grades 7-12, there were by 32% between 2010 and 2015.ix
more than 1,700 teachers who were not certified to
teach the English, math, social studies, science or • From 2009 to 2015, the education major enrollment
special education classes they were assigned.iii at Alabama’s public universities dropped by 19%.x

• The majority of schools in Alabama are in rural • 8% of teachers leave the profession each year.
areas and they have the largest percentage of
teachers using emergency or provisional • Teacher salaries are worth less than they were a
certificates. iv Some rural schools report that more decade ago after adjusting for inflation. Teachers in
than 80% of their math and science classes are Alabama are paid 72% of what college graduates in
taught by teachers without proper certification.v other professions earn in the state.

• Every year since the 2004-2005 school year, • Last year, on the ACT, only 4% of high school
Alabama has reported to the U.S. Department of juniors taking the test indicated they would
Education shortages in foreign languages, consider teaching as a career, down from 12%
mathematics, science and special education, only four years ago.
indicating longstanding shortages in these subject • Only 523 secondary first time teaching
certificates were issued in Alabama in the
• Teachers who lack comprehensive preparation are 2 2017-2018 school year.
to 3 times more likely to leave teaching in their
early years than those who are fully prepared.vii

Recommendations by the Task Force
The task force recommendations are grouped around the strategies of improving efforts to recruit
individuals to the teaching profession and measures to keep educators working in education for
their entire career.

1) Extend Emergency Certificate from 12 months to 9) Allow work experience to be used in lieu of
24 months. (Recommendation was approved by course work for critical needs academic subjects
the legislature during 2019 session and signed (i.e., applying career tech model for engineer
into law by Governor Ivey.) pursuing certification in math.).

2) Pilot project iteach for science, math and special 10) Support the continued growth of Teach for
education teachers. (iteach is a competency- America in Alabama as one pipeline to recruit the
based educator preparation program that best and the brightest to become teachers in
combines the convenience of online learning with hard-to-staff districts. Provide additional state
the support of face-to-face mentorship. edTPA funding to help school districts with local funds
will not be a requirement.)
11) Provide significant incentives for certified
3) Increase teacher salaries to a level comparable to teachers to teach in high need areas and hard to
other professionals requiring similar credentials. staff areas.

4) Develop a sliding scale for different areas of 12) Create and promote dual enrollment programs
certification on Praxis assessment. Obtained for high school students who are potential
scores will determine subject areas that could or teacher candidates.
could not be taught.
13) Create a multifaceted public relations strategy to
5) Create a pathway for students to graduate with promote teaching as a career in Alabama.
an “Educational Studies Degree” that does not
require a qualifying Praxis score. These students 14) Promote Future Teachers of Alabama (FTA)
would be employable under an emergency throughout Alabama’s high schools.
certificate where they can continue the
certification process. (Athens State has a current 15) In order to streamline Alabama’s teacher
program for this.) certification process, fully review the process at
the ALSDE to identify opportunities to create
6) Create scholarships and maintain loan forgiveness efficiencies, increase capacity where needed, and
programs to encourage students to choose a put the entire process online.
career in education.
16) Develop a statewide data dashboard to provide
7) Allow individuals to begin the process for real-time data to higher education, ALSDE and
provisional certification without a LEAs on educator pipeline (i.e., North Carolina
superintendent’s recommendation. model).

8) Extend provisional certificates from one year to 17) Create a P-6 special education certificate,
two years and continue to allow an individual to combining early and elementary education
obtain three provisional certificates. where allowable.

Recommendations by the Task Force (continued)

18) Establish absolute reciprocity with other states. 22) Allow certified teachers to pass the Praxis for
additional field certification without having
19) Reconsider the requirement of edTPA for teacher taught two years at the particular grade level.
certification, pending evaluation of its
effectiveness. 23) Explore creating a pre-apprenticeship program
and an industry-recognized apprenticeship
20) Provide incentives to entice retired teachers to program (IRAP), recognized by the Alabama
return to work. Office of Apprenticeship and sponsored by a
consortium of education stakeholder groups, to
21) Utilize veteran teachers in recruiting the next facilitate accelerated completion of an educator
generation of Alabama teachers. preparation through dual enrollment and
shadowing mentor in-service teachers.


1) Create a Tier III retirement plan as an option to 7) Strive to adopt culture, climate, and
replace Tier II in order to recruit and retain benefit models to better align with the
teachers and all education employees. Millennial’s lifestyle.

2) Review structure of the existing salary matrix 8) Create a task force of teacher leaders to develop
to increase salary at different stages in a recommendations on how to improve school
teacher’s career. culture/working conditions.

3) Make National Board Certification bonus 9) Promote loan forgiveness for teachers in areas of
equivalent to the amount received for a master’s critical need.
degree on the state salary matrix.
10) Expand the existing Alabama teacher mentoring
4) Pilot the Professional Pathways program program to include two years of mentoring for
recommended by the Governor's Commission every new teacher and require high quality
on Quality Teaching to create career pathways training of mentors in order to receive funding
that incentivize our best teachers to remain in for the $1000 mentor stipend.
the classroom.

5) Provide opportunities for high quality induction,

mentoring and professional development.

6) Develop strategies to deal with mental health

issues of students.

Addressing the state’s teacher shortage challenge is clearly multi-faceted. It is the hope of this task
force that these recommendations will result in dialogue that ultimately leads to our mission
statement being fulfilled. When systems in our state have an “increase in the quantity and quality
of teacher applicants,” the end result will be an improved education for the students of Alabama
and ultimately will improve the quality of life for residents of our state.
The ALSDE is continuing to work diligently with many experts and practitioners around the
state to find ways to combat our current teacher shortage crisis. The meetings of the Teacher
Shortage Taskforce have been informative and fruitful. It is now time for state leaders to work
together to implement solutions to not only increase the number of teachers licensed and retained
in Alabama, but to improve the quality of our teaching workforce.
State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey has created the Teacher Quantity and Quality
Roundtable (TQ2) to continue the work begun by the Alabama Teacher Shortage Taskforce.
This roundtable will be a solution-oriented, action-planning group comprised of a limited number
of stakeholders and policymakers. This will not be a taskforce slated with putting together a list of
recommendations. Rather, the TQ2 roundtable will find and vet policy solutions and create plans to
see them through. The roundtable will be facilitated by a team of experienced policy advisors and
researchers from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). SREB will also provide financial
assistance through grants to support the roundtable meetings and customized research.
The roundtable will meet in-person for six one-day meetings over the course of the next year, with
the first meeting to be held on September 30, 2019.

Meeting Dates and Topics

January 30, 2019 Teacher certification requirements and practices
February 20, 2019 Teacher recruitment and retention
March 21, 2019 College/University Deans panel discussion, educator prep programs
April 24, 2019 Education Commission of the States
May 24, 2019 Dr. Joan Lord, SREB - using a roundtable approach to develop educator
workforce strategies
June 26, 2019 Teacher and Personnel Director’s panel - Certification and Preparation Issues
July 24, 2019 iteach with Dr. Diann Huber
August 8, 2019 Presentation to Alabama State Board of Education on the work of the Alabama
Teacher Shortage Task Force
September 19, 2019 Stephen Kostyo, Policy Advisor, Learning Policy Institute

i 2017-2018 Emergency and Provisional certificate Teacher Data. Montgomery, AL: Alabama State Department
of Education.

ii 2017-2018 Emergency and Provisional certificate Teacher Data. Montgomery, AL: Alabama State Department
of Education.

iii Data from Alabama Teacher Shortage Taskforce

iii 2017-2018 Emergency and Provisional certificate Teacher Data. Montgomery, AL: Alabama State Department
of Education.

iv Crain, T. (2019). Teacher Shortage Hits hardest in Rural Alabama.


v U.S. Department of Education. Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing.

vi Ingersoll, R., Merrill, L., & May, H. (2012). Retaining teachers: How preparation matters. Educational
Leadership, 69(8), 30–34

viii Sell. M. (2019). Behind Teacher Shortage: Fewer New Educators Graduating From Alabama Schools.
Birmingham, AL: WBHM.

ix U.S. Department of Education.

x Sell. M. (2019). Alabama’s Teacher Shortages Reach ‘Crisis’ Level. Birmingham, AL: WBHM.