Pennsylvania’s Largest Summit Focused on the Teacher Shortage Crisis Discusses Root Causes and Solutions

Pennsylvania’s Largest Summit Focused on the Teacher Shortage Crisis Discusses Root Causes and Solutions

Advocates Will Use the Discussion to Develop a Report with Recommendations to Alleviate the Teacher Shortage Crisis

Harrisburg, PA, September 23, 2022 – Yesterday, policymakers, K-12 practitioners and leaders, higher education leaders, non-profit leaders, and advocates from across Pennsylvania gathered to understand the scale of the teacher shortage problem, explore its root causes, and identify policy solutions. The effort, called #PANeedsTeachers, was convened by the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) and Teach Plus Pennsylvania. Many districts and charter networks are experiencing trouble with teacher recruitment and retention. At the same time, graduation and credentialing trends in Pennsylvania show a drop in education degrees and certifications. While there has been concern about these trends, this is the first comprehensive effort in Pennsylvania to analyze the scope, root causes, and potential solutions to ensure students in the commonwealth will receive a robust learning experience.

“With students returning to school, the questions surrounding the teacher shortage are more urgent than ever,” said Amy Morton, a system design specialist at NCEE. “We are already seeing troubling trends in teacher recruitment and graduation rates for education majors. Teaching is not as attractive a profession as it used to be for a variety of reasons. We need to analyze and take action, so our education system in Pennsylvania is accessible and excellent for all.”

“As we learned yesterday, solving the teacher shortage crisis will take collaboration and strong leadership from policymakers, advocates, and education leaders,” said Laura Boyce, Executive Director of Teach Plus Pennsylvania. “Yesterday’s summit was the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, and we plan to build on our conversations to develop a comprehensive plan and enduring coalition to ensure all of our schools and students have high-quality teachers in their classroom.”

Understanding the Scope of Teacher Shortages

The first panel at the conference explored the scope of the teacher shortage. Dr. Edward J. Fuller, an Associate Professor at Penn State University, and David Lapp, the Director of Policy Research at Research for Action, presented data and research to better understand the definition of a teacher shortage. They explored data on how supply and demand for teachers has changed in Pennsylvania as well as which subjects, types of schools, and subsets of teachers are most impacted by shortages. They found that there was fundamentally a supply problem in the pipeline, with fewer college students pursuing degrees in the education field and fewer Pennsylvanians seeking teaching credentials. In the last decade, there has been a drop in newly certified in-state teachers from approximately 15,000 a year to 5,000 a year. There are also attrition issues throughout the Commonwealth and a shortage of teachers of color. The problem is especially acute for rural schools and schools that serve students living in poverty and students of color.

Exploring Root Causes & Systemic Factors

The next panel looked at the teacher shortage issue’s root causes and systematic factors. Amy Morton, from NCEE, and Laura Boyce, the Executive Director of Teach Plus PA, discussed factors causing teacher shortages, including financial considerations, recruitment challenges, inconsistencies in teacher preparation, and working conditions in Pennsylvania schools. They found that the personal cost to become a teacher had significantly increased while educator pay lagged behind other professions. The panel further discussed an imbalance between the importance of the teaching profession and the challenges facing teachers, which has negatively impacted recruitment and retention. Many teachers enter the profession unprepared and do not receive the proper support in the workforce. Again, this is especially acute at high-need schools and for teachers of color.

Promising Practices & Policy Solutions

The conference also looked to experts and leaders to present recommendations and solutions to the teacher shortage crisis. Dr. Bridget O’Connell, the Superintendent of the Palisades School District, discussed her experience developing and deploying Education Careers Pathway Programs. The Education Career Pathway program helps students complete coursework to prepare them for the postsecondary credits needed to earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree or pursue a career after graduation. Dr. Dusty Blakey, Superintendent, Kennett Consolidated School District, and Dr. Desha Williams, Dean of the College of Education & Social Work, West Chester University, discussed their initiative to create collaborative partnerships for West Chester education students to gain exposure and experience at the Kennett School District. Scott Gaiber, an Educational Consultant with Elevate 215, and Sarah Hollister, the Deputy Director of Education Policy for the City of Philadelphia, highlighted their citywide, cross-sector plan to recruit, train, and hire diverse teachers across Philadelphia in both district and charter schools. Finally, Karen Parker Thompson, Co-Director, Pennsylvania Educator Diversity Consortium outlined five policy priorities to build a strong and diverse teacher workforce, including improving data collection, investing in teacher retention, investing in innovative teacher preparation pathways, reducing financial burdens for incoming teachers, and removing barriers from Pennsylvania’s educator preparation and certification processes.

Engaging Pennsylvania’s Leading Policymakers

Participants heard from four policy leaders who are collaborating advocates as we develop recommendations and policy suggestions. State Senator Ryan Aument, along with his colleagues in the Pennsylvania House, Representatives Patty Kim and Jason Ortitay spoke about legislative strategies to address teacher shortages. Acting Education Secretary Eric Hagarty outlined the administration’s plans to help strengthen the teacher pipeline. Policymakers in Harrisburg are working on bipartisan solutions to solve the teacher shortage crisis. The conference attendees were eager to hear their plans and engage with them on innovative solutions.

The conference concluded with a plan to develop a report based on yesterday’s themes and findings and establish an ongoing coalition effort to advance policy change.

This event was made possible through the generous support of The Heinz Endowments, the Eden Hall Foundation, The Hillman Foundation, the Berks County Community Foundation, and The Foundation for Enhancing Communities.

About Teach Plus and NCEE

Teach Plus: The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has developed thousands of teacher leaders across the country to exercise their leadership in shaping education policy and improving teaching and learning, to create an education system driven by access and excellence for all.

NCEE: Since 1988, The National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) has been researching the world’s best-performing education systems to give states and districts the tools they need to become world class. NCEE has been a leader in U.S. education from policy to practice, producing reports that have led to landmark national legislation, supporting states in redesigning their education systems, and providing rigorous, proven support to more education leaders than any other organization. NCEE’s dedicated, diverse, and experienced staff are working with teachers, school leaders, district leadership teams, and state policymakers to create the highest-performing, most equitable systems of education in the world. For more information visit

CONTACT: Mark Nicastre at or 860-685-1542.