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Commissioner's Blue Ribbon Task Force addresses teacher vacancies and decline in employment pipeline

Posted: Aug 12, 2016
Categories: KSDE
Author: Ann Bush

Denise Kahler, Director of Communications     (785) 296-4876

August 11, 2016

Commissioner’s Blue Ribbon Task Force addresses teacher vacancies and decline in employment pipeline

Report shows Kansas continues to import more K-12 educators than leave the state

TOPEKA - Over the last few years, Kansas universities and colleges have reported a decline in the number of students enrolling in teacher preparation programs. This, combined with the number of Baby Boomers retiring and some Kansas districts struggling to fill teacher vacancies, prompted Kansas Education Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson earlier this year to commission a task force to study Kansas’ teacher vacancies and shortages.

“There is definitely a slowing of the educator pipeline,” said Kansas Education Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson. “And when you combine that with the number of teachers currently eligible for retirement and the chronic teacher vacancy rates in several areas of the state, we’ve got the potential for a perfect storm.”

The Blue Ribbon Task Force, made up of Kansas educators, higher education representatives and Kansas State Department of Education staff members, met throughout April, May and June to study the issues and to develop recommendations for addressing the persistent vacancies and decreasing professional pipeline.

Referencing the Kansas State Department of Education’s 2015-16 Licensed Personnel Report (LPR), which tracks district data on Kansas K-12 licensed educators entering and exiting Kansas schools, the task force noted some key observations.

While 303 Kansas educators left the state during the 2014-15 school year, (290 left the state during the 2013-14 school year), 599 out-of-state educators accepted teaching assignments in Kansas (739 in 2013-14).

Educator retirement rates remained steady with 1,029 reported during the 2014-15 school year, down slightly from 1,109 reported during the 2013-14 school year.

When looking at Kansas educators’ years of experience, the task force concluded that Kansas is currently experiencing a greening of the profession. Forty percent of Kansas educators are reported as having less than 10 years of experience. That percentage jumps to 55 percent when looking at educators with less than 15 years of experience.

The task force also noted that the majority of reported teacher vacancies are concentrated in southwest Kansas, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas.

In its final report presented to the Kansas State Board of Education Tuesday, the task force outlined 61 recommendations that were categorized as being either Immediate, Intermediate or Long-term. The board subsequently approved the creation of a Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee to serve as a standing subcommittee of the Professional Standards Board. The committee will be charged with leading the implementation of approved task force recommendations, studying the effectiveness of those recommendations and monitoring the annual collection of teacher data.  

According to Watson, himself a former classroom teacher and administrator, “It’s time to tell our story. Teaching is a great profession and, while it isn’t without its challenges, the rewards are unparalleled. We are committed to placing a highly qualified teacher in every Kansas classroom. If you have the passion, the knowledge and the desire to protect and changes lives, we have a place for you.”

Read the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s complete report here:http://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/Communications/Publications/BRTF%20Final.pdf

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