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Coalition of education groups, including KASB, working to address school workforce shortages

Posted Date: 10/15/2021

Coalition of education groups, including KASB, working to address school workforce shortages

Public school teachers and staff are being asked to complete a short survey as part of an effort by KASB, KNEA and USA-Kansas to help address increasing shortages in the education workforce.

“We believe that the key to understanding and addressing retention issues is hearing directly from our teachers,” said Dr. Bret Church, an associate professor at Emporia State University, who will lead the research. “What about their jobs keeps them engaged and committed to their profession, and/or what are the factors that might cause them to ultimately leave? We are confident that the survey data will produce positive impacts that benefit Kansas students,” he said.

The research comes when Kansas is experiencing a sharp increase in teacher vacancies, according to a new report. There were 1,253 teacher vacancies this fall as compared with 771 in the fall of 2020. The largest number of vacancies are in special education; the top reason given for an unfilled position was that there were no applicants. Shortages have also been seen statewide in administrators, paraprofessionals and classified staff.

Officials have said one of the main reasons for the rising vacancies is because of economic and societal disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teachers and staff can take the survey through a link that was sent to each school district, Church said. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

The survey focuses on five key data sets: retention factor ratings, retention factor prioritization rankings, most and least rewarding aspects of teaching, teacher engagement, and the likelihood of retention. From this research, the coalition expects to generate actionable plans and recommendations to address the growing shortages.

“Educator shortages are reaching severe levels. USA, KNEA, and KASB have a vested interest in retaining our great teachers. We are pleased to work with The Teacher’s College and Associate Professor Church on this important research project,” said John Heim, executive director of KASB.

“We believe that making public schools great for every Kansas student begins with doing all we can to ensure that dedicated, diverse, and highly qualified educators lead every classroom,” said KNEA President Sherri Schwanz.

G.A. Buie, executive director of USA-Kansas, said, “The time is now. We can no longer wait and expect this staffing shortage to fix itself. As Kansas educators, it's time to come together to develop a solution for this shortage. This survey is a critical first step.”

Church said he anticipated having statewide data by early 2022 and reports to participating districts that have the necessary response rate in the first quarter of 2022.