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Perspective | Teacher recruitment and retention trends across North Carolina after the COVID-19 pandemic

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The Public School Forum of North Carolina has published a report aimed at better understanding and solving the ongoing challenges with teacher recruitment and retention since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In North Carolina and across the nation, districts and schools struggle to recruit and retain effective teachers, especially teachers of color. For more than a decade, declining enrollments in educator preparation programs and rises in teacher vacancies and attrition rates, coupled with population growth and increasing demand for teachers, have foreshadowed an impending crisis for the teaching profession. This was a significant challenge even before the COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented disruptions in all aspects of K-12 education.

“It is crucial that we take action, not just for short-term relief but also for long-term sustainability,” said Public School Forum Senior Director of Policy & Research Dr. Lauren Fox. “This will require systemic and comprehensive changes to how teachers are compensated, supported, recruited, and valued.”  

Overall, the Forum found that while North Carolina’s teacher pipeline is certainly in a state of crisis, school districts and partners have developed innovative strategies to mitigate the impact which need to be strengthened and scaled. Six key findings emerged:

  • Teacher vacancy rates and attrition are concerning across the board, creating a crisis that impacts districts of all sizes and settings. Districts with higher populations of students of color are most impacted by these trends.
  • The number of candidates for teaching positions has declined significantly, and districts are having to hire less-qualified candidates to fill vacant positions.
  • Lack of respect for the teaching profession and suffering teacher morale are contributing to persistent difficulties with recruiting and retaining top-quality talent. Low teacher pay amplifies and exacerbates these issues.
  • The Praxis Core testing requirement is a significant and highly unnecessary barrier to entry for many seeking to enter the teaching profession, especially for teachers of color.
  • Targeted recruitment efforts and new entry pathways for teacher candidates have shown some promise, but more support is needed.
  • Many school districts have focused their attention on retention efforts in an effort to reduce teacher attrition and improve teacher morale.

Read the full report along with the Forum’s recommendations here.

Chanté Russell

Chanté Russell is a journalist and North Carolina native. She currently works at the Public School Forum of North Carolina as a communications analyst.