New Jersey Educator Workforce Reports will explore challenges in ensuring students and educators are prepared for a changing future.
Cranford, NJ — Today, JerseyCAN published its first report in a series focused on New Jersey’s educator workforce. The State of the New Jersey Educator Workforce analyzes New Jersey’s educator workforce prior to the global pandemic, highlights the mismatch between the supply of teachers and the hiring demands of schools, and makes six key recommendations for improving the supply of educators and for creating a more agile education system equipped to respond to times of crisis.
“New Jersey is facing a teacher shortage, especially in key subjects such as math, science and bilingual education, and a large discrepancy in the number of minority teachers compared to the amount of minority students,” said JerseyCAN Executive Director Patricia Morgan. “We lack accurate data on New Jersey’s future educator needs and as a State we need to evolve our certification and data gathering processes to meet this critical educational and social policy need for our students and communities.”
In the midst of developing the series, COVID-19 hit New Jersey and drastically altered the delivery of education throughout the state. In light of these significant changes, it is imperative that all students across New Jersey have access to an excellent educator. However, data from the report demonstrates that the educator pipeline is not being informed by school district needs such as open positions, anticipated vacancies and new positions due to shifts in student enrollment or demographics.
“We know students perform better when they have teachers who look like them. It is unacceptable that any single day, some 160,000 New Jersey public school students do not see even one teacher of color. It is critical that our educational workforce is reflective of our student body, which is why I’ve been working on a bill package to increase teacher diversity at every level of education,” said Senator M. Teresa Ruiz. “Not only will it work to recruit more teachers, but it will create more accessible pathways to careers in education for all New Jerseyans.”
Some highlights from the report include:
Teacher Supply: The supply of teachers prepared in New Jersey is declining and teacher and student demographics do not match.
- In-state preparation of teachers has dropped by 18% from 2013-2016. During that time:
- 10,700 new teachers have been prepared in traditional educator programs.
- 8,800 new teachers have been prepared in alternate route programs.
- Only 23% of our educator preparation providers across the state have produced bilingual educators and 18% had less than 10 candidates per program.
- Currently, 84% of our teacher workforce is White, compared to 43% of our students.
- In 2018, the NJDOE reported that teachers with zero to four years of experience are 78.6% White compared to 85.5% of teachers with five or more years of experience.
- Research demonstrates that students of color taught by at least one teacher of color in grades K-5 have increased graduation rates and test scores.
Teacher Demand: New Jersey does not collect or report district demand or open position data; however, we do know that:
- The New Jersey Department of Education has confirmed teacher shortage areas in Science, Math, Bilingual, English as a Second Language, World Languages and CTE.
- 2018 NJ CEAS Educator Preparation Provider Reports reports show the content areas with the some of the highest teacher employment rates statewide were: Technology, Physics, Bilingual, World Languages and Biology.
- Many districts have seen a significant increase in English language learners and these districts are often struggling to provide the bilingual teachers required by law. Last school year, eight New Jersey counties could not meet bilingual teacher requirements for 10 or more of their districts.
Vacancies: Each year many school districts start the school year with teacher vacancies; once the school year starts, it can be very challenging for most districts to find staff.
- At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, Newark reported 105 open positions, eight of which were newly created Bilingual positions.
- Camden still had 29 open positions in the fall of the 2019-2020 school year.
In addition, New Jersey lacks a comprehensive state system to collect and report on teacher vacancy data, thereby making it difficult to ensure that the educator pipeline is meeting school district and student hirings needs. To help address this problem, the report makes six key recommendations designed to create a more responsive educator pipeline to meet the demands of students across the state.
The Educator Workforce Series can be accessed at www.jerseycan.org. The next report in this series will explore national and New Jersey leaders’ perspectives on how best to support, attract and retain educators in these unprecedented times.
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JerseyCAN is a nonprofit organization that advocates for high-quality educational opportunities for all New Jersey students, regardless of their address. JerseyCAN has secured key policy wins that have advanced its mission including more equitable school funding, growth in the number of high-quality new schools in our state—particularly in Newark and Camden—and high standards and aligned assessments. Since its inception in 2013, the JerseyCAN board has been co-chaired by former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean and Ann Borowiec, former CEO, J.P. Morgan Private Banking.