The number of Kansas teachers moving to another state doubled the 2010 figures. Kansas teacher retirements are up as well. Last week, the Kansas State Board of Education received the 2014-2015 Licensed Personnel Report. There was little in their data to ease the worries of some Kansas schools districts that are now seeing unfilled vacancies even in elementary education.
Three-fourths of the licensed school personnel are now women. Non-white teachers are under-represented compared to their proportion of the Kansas population, with only 1.5 percent Black or African-American and one-half percent Asian.
In 2010-2011, 331 teachers left Kansas to take a job in another state; last year, 654 left.
The economic downturn of 2008 did impact schools when funding was drastically cut. By 2010, there were 350 teachers lost by “reduction in force”; last year 80 more teachers left from continued reductions. The number of teachers who simply “left the profession” without retiring increased from 416 in 2010-2011 to 740 in 2014-2015.
Both the age of teachers and their number of years teaching are worrisome. Since there is reliable attrition year-by-year, the number of younger teachers is simply inadequate to fill the upcoming retirements unless a higher rate of teachers remain in teaching and remain in Kansas.
Attempts to solve the science shortage are not providing significant numbers. The 2014-2015 year was the first year that individuals could enter science-technology-engineering-mathematics (STEM) teaching from an adjacent profession without going through teacher training; only three teachers were added statewide under this STEM initiative.
This last year, only a little over 85 percent of science teachers are now fully licensed in secondary sciences, a figure that has been dropping for the last decade. However, few waivers were sought by districts for these out-of-field teachers. Waivers indicate that the teacher is making progress toward full licensure and only one biology, two chemistry and one physics teachers were granted waivers. The recent high increases in college tuition is a factor in securing qualified teachers.
I am awaiting a further breakout of the secondary science area for 2014-201`5. However, based on the prior year data from the KSDE, the number of initial teacher licenses showed the lowest numbers of new teachers entering the Kansas classroom in biology, chemistry, physics and earth science since records have been kept. Not all individuals who acquire teacher training enter the Kansas classroom, so some excess production is needed to replace the cohort of retiring teachers.
In biology, over 200 new teachers are needed per year. Only 17 completed Kansas programs (initial, restricted, and temporary non-renewable) and an additional 10 completed out-of-state programs (initial, exchange, professional, provisional/alternative route, and temporary non-renewable). 15 teachers added biology by test-out.
Kansas needs 120 initial chemistry teachers. Only five came from Kansas programs, two from out-of-state, one was Kansas provisional, and 14 added chemistry by test-out.
Kansas needs over 100 physics teachers. Four completed Kansas programs, one completed an out-of-state program, and 10 gained licensure by test-out.
In earth and space science, one completed a Kansas program, four completed out-of-state programs and 32 tested-out.
Since most test-out teachers have not taken college science lab courses, they lack that experience that makes the science meaningful and also provides lab experiences that they can simplify for use with their students.
Simply, more current teachers are adding science endorsements than there are new science teachers produced. This supply of current Kansas teachers who can cross-over and test-out is limited and will soon be exhausted.
Many teachers testified at the last KSBE open forum, pointing out various ways in which the teaching profession is being derided, disrespected, and blamed. As several State Board members noted, our teacher shortage is going to get worse before it gets better.