A+ Policy Brief: Rethinking Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Alabama, A New Focus on the Current and Future Millennial Workforce

Alabama is facing a teacher shortage. Here’s how to solve it.

Everyone is talking about Millennials these days. Good or bad, there’s no shortage of opinions.

A+’s newest policy brief dives into a look at Millennials to recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers for Alabama schools.

Rethinking Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Alabama: A New Focus on the Current an Future Millennial Workforce was written by Courtney Gilmore, A+’s 2017 Leadership for Educational Equity Policy Fellow and a high school teacher—and a Millennial!

Alabama has room for improvement in how we recruit and retain teachers, and that’s not unique nationally. As the report states, “In 2016, the Center for American Progress (CAP) surveyed a sample of 108 nationally representative school districts asking them about how they recruit, hire, support, develop, and incentivize their teachers.”

The results from CAP’s survey are alarming, but if you read between the lines they signal a way forward:

  1. School districts’ recruitment strategies are hyperlocal, untargeted, or nonexistent.
  2. School districts’ application and selection processes often emphasize static application materials—such as written applications, resumes, and proof of certifications—over performance-based measures.
  3. School districts do not provide new teachers with substantive mentoring or onboarding opportunities to build new skills critical to their roles.
  4. School districts do not provide teachers with enough opportunities for professional development or access to professional learning systems that support teachers’ continuous growth.
  5. School districts do not compensate teachers similarly to college-educated professionals in other fields or provide teachers with the resources they need to do their jobs well.
  6. School districts do not strategically recruit diverse candidates or create inclusive, supportive environments to retain them.

Rethinking Teacher Recruitment and Retention shares some strategies for how schools and systems in Alabama can solve the problem and make sure they can hire and retain the best teachers available.

The brief includes policy recommendations that can be adopted either at the local or state level, and they’re worth considering:

  • Build relationships and/or partner with top employers nationwide and in Alabama, including Google, to develop models and assistance in recruiting the nation’s brightest into Alabama’s classrooms.
  • Launch a statewide Teacher Fellows Program.
  • Launch a statewide campaign for recruitment of Millennials.
  • Strive to adopt culture, climate, and benefit models of top employers nationwide that align with Millennials lifestyles.
  • Develop partnerships between teacher preparation programs and school districts.
  • Create an incentive system for schools that do a great job of retaining teachers based on a certain benchmark (e.g. 95 percent annual retention).
  • Focus on veteran teachers’ importance in recruiting the next generation of Alabama teachers by engaging them as mentors for new teachers, both formally and informally.
  • Revive official discussions and study of a statewide professional pathways system and provide a framework for districts that gives them flexibility to implement and tailor the model to their population.
  • Develop a data collection and dissemination tool with a focus on teacher pipeline metrics.
    • This should be similar to the UNC Educator Quality Dashboard, which provides the selection criteria for all North Carolina teacher preparation programs, among other things. This one-stop option for potential applicants provides the opportunity for cross comparison of programs. Additionally, the university-school partnerships tool also provides applicants an opportunity to see the feeder schools for the university of their choice.
  • Require each school system to create a comprehensive teacher recruitment and retention plan.
    • These plans should include strategies for attracting and retaining in- and out-of-state candidates, special education teachers, and STEM teachers. Recruitment plans should be shared on the State Department website to serve as a resource tool so that districts can collaborate or share their methods of recruiting.

Read Rethinking Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Alabama here.