Desiree Carver-Thomas, Tara Kini, and Dion Burns
When California students returned to school in fall 2019, hundreds of thousands returned to classrooms staffed by substitutes and teachers who were not fully prepared to teach. In recent years, California has experienced widespread shortages of elementary and secondary teachers as districts and schools seek to restore class sizes and course offerings cut during the Great Recession. Schools experiencing shortages of fully certified teachers often respond by cutting courses, increasing class sizes, and hiring substitutes and teachers on substandard credentials. Although statewide data reveal a deepening shortage across the state, teacher supply and demand factors vary across districts, and as a result, there can be stark disparities in shortages both among and within districts.
This report examines the most recent publicly available data from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and public- and restricted-use student and staffing data from the California Department of Education (CDE) to highlight the status of teacher supply, demand, and shortages, as well as teacher diversity, in California. The report details the significance of these supply and demand factors and demonstrates how these conditions vary throughout the state. In addition, the report summarizes recent state investments in addressing teacher shortages and examines potential policy solutions to mitigate ongoing shortages. While this report is based largely on data that predates the COVID-19 pandemic, it discusses the key factors now emerging as the pandemic affects California’s teacher workforce.