Great communities require great schools. Great schools demand great teachers. Yet, as double-digit enrollment decreases in the nation’s educator preparation programs intersect with low retention rates for early career teachers and surging teacher resignations, the teaching profession faces critical shortages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 567,000 fewer teachers today than before the pandemic. Closer to home, Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) began the 2021-2022 school year down nearly 200 teachers.
Cincinnati’s and the nation’s ability to recruit, maintain, and retain a vibrant, diverse, and deep teaching workforce faces challenges along three fronts.
First, there are not enough new teachers entering the pipeline to keep pace with the profession’s attrition rates. Between 2010-2018, there was a 50% decline in Ohio’s teacher education enrollments, placing Ohio as one of nine states with a net loss of more than 10,000 prospective teachers. More must be done to identify emerging teachers before college, invest in their pre-college preparation, and support their admission into and matriculation through teacher preparation programs.
Second, school districts struggle to retain early-career teachers. Pre-pandemic statistics indicated approximately 44% of teachers leave the profession within their first five years, with the most alarming rates among urban and high-need schools. A recent National Education Association (NEA) survey revealed that 55% of current teachers are planning to leave the profession earlier than planned.
Early career teachers require ongoing support in managing their social-emotional well-being and empowering their ability to work within school structures, particularly in urban environments.
Finally, the nation’s teaching workforce diversity is not keeping pace with national demographics. While 17% of Ohio’s students identify as Black, only 4.3% of the state’s teachers are Black. Despite ongoing recruitment and retention efforts in Ohio teacher preparation programs, enrollment of future teachers of color declined by 67% from 2010 to 2018.
The teaching workforce diversity challenge requires innovative approaches to identifying and attracting more prospective teachers of color earlier during their schooling and supporting them to graduation.
In fall 2022, four students from Aiken High School are among seven total CPS students entering Miami University’s teacher education program, marking a key milestone for a groundbreaking program that began in 2019. Nine additional Aiken students already are positioned in this pipeline for fall 2023.
Founded as MU TEACh, the TEACh Cincinnati program began at Aiken with a simple premise – teachers favor districts similar to those they came from while also possessing a greater understanding of the challenges students in those districts face. The resulting recruit-retain-retire model, targets those teachers, preparing diverse, effective, long-term educators through the following stages:
- Recruitment beginning in junior high and early high school with affinity groups and mentoring from in-residence Miami teacher preparation faculty.
- High school juniors and seniors engage in college prep, college courses, and campus visits.
- Students gain admission into Miami’s teacher education programs, backed by financial, academic, and social supports, enhancing both financial access and retention.
- Students participate in Miami’s award-winning Urban Cohort program, preparing them specifically for the challenges and opportunities of urban teaching environments, and student teach in Cincinnati schools.
- Graduates receive preferred hiring status within Cincinnati Public Schools.
- Early career teachers receive ongoing mentoring and education through Miami’s master’s of transformative education program, enabling them to not only persist but thrive as teachers.
- Early career teachers grow into established, high-impact teachers, persisting to retirement and creating lasting legacies as leaders and mentors in their school districts.
This model and its early successes led to a recent Ohio Department of Higher Education grant creating the capacity to support 20 teacher education students from CPS over two years. When combined with investments both from Miami and CPS, the program seeks to expand across Cincinnati high schools to graduate at least 100 new homegrown teachers in the next decade. The real promise is not in Miami’s impact alone but in the model itself, which can be scaled across Cincinnati schools and the nine higher education institutions graduating educators within 50 miles of Cincinnati.
Where Do We Go from Here?
While the challenge is daunting, the imperative for action, economically and socially, is too important to ignore. A shortage of quality teachers limits the effectiveness of our communities’ schools, leaving a generational impact on educational attainment and, ultimately, life outcomes.
The weight of this challenge is beyond the capabilities of any one entity or sector. The ramifications are felt and, thus, the responsibilities shared across a community.
Miami University and its College of Education, Health, and Society invite Cincinnati partners from across education, industry, government and philanthropy to join in critical discussions surrounding educator recruitment and retention and share of their knowledge and resources to ensure all Cincinnati students benefit from committed, well-prepared and inspiring teachers.
Show your support with an investment in TEACh Cincinnati. Give now.