A new study shows that teacher shortages in Montana may be unique from those in other states.
The study, conducted by the Institute of Education Sciences, reveals that Montana is indeed experiencing a teacher shortage. However, unlike many other state’s Montana’s teacher shortages are being driven by an inability to find qualified applicants, not teacher turnover.
Additionally, the more rural the school, the more difficulty districts experienced in filling vacancies. From the study:
These findings serve as yet another reminder that teacher shortages in rural areas are often different than those in suburban or urban districts. Despite rural and small schools presenting great opportunities for innovative teaching and learning, it’s often hard to find quality applicants.
Population decline is just one factor that complicates teacher recruitment in rural America. The fact that rural educators are more likely to hold multiple roles within their schools may not help. But thankfully, data from studies like these can help provide policymakers in Montana and beyond find new ways to increase the supply of high-quality educators.
We’re already seeing examples around the country of how “grow-your-own” programs are gamechangers for teacher recruitment. Community- and partner-based programs are also proving instrumental in encouraging students to stick around and consider working in their local schools.
But until teacher shortages like Montana’s are solved, students remain at risk for falling behind and not getting the education they deserve.
Garris Stroud is an award-winning ELA educator, author, and advocate from rural Western Kentucky. He is a former Hope Street Group Kentucky State Teacher Fellow and member of the Kentucky Education Commissioner’s Teacher Advisory Council (TAC).