Utah is going through a serious teacher shortage. The simple truth is that every year more teachers leave the profession than graduate from Utah’s teaching majors, leading to staffing challenges at schools, less competitive hiring choices, large class sizes, and sometimes untrained educators.
According to a joint study between the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah Education Policy Center, 47% of new teachers leave the classroom within 5 years and within 7 years, the total rises to 56%. There are a number of ways to address this growing problem that tackle teacher recruitment and retention, including raising teacher compensation. But until now there has been no specific suggestion for what a raise in teacher salaries would do or what it should look like.
Thanks to a new report by Envision Utah, clear and specific recommendations for addressing our teacher shortage have at last emerged! A new study and report called “A Vision for Teacher Excellence” details Envision Utah’s plan for fixing the teacher shortage gap through compensation changes that would help us:
- Recruit our best and brightest into the profession
- Retain great teachers in the classroom
- Re-engage great teachers who left the classroom
- Elevate the teaching profession
- Improve student outcomes
The plan was created by Envision Utah’s Teacher Compensation Task Force, a collection of community leaders, educators and lawmakers who integrated recommendations to stabilize and optimize and the teacher workforce through a variety of specific recommendations that include:
- Raising the average starting teacher salary to $60,000/year
- Strengthening teacher induction with meaningful support from dedicated mentors
- Providing the option for teachers to work more days for planning, professional development, summer teaching, etc. with commensurate pay
- Providing more scholarships for prospective teachers and heavily promote scholarship opportunities to younger students
- Building stronger career pathways through increased leadership opportunities with varied responsibilities and pay
- Encouraging greater family support and involvement in education
- Ensuring class sizes are effective for subject area and grade level
- Providing adequate support professionals such as counselors, aides, etc
Envision Utah’s report also delineates expected outcomes for each of these recommended strategies. For instance, higher salaries are expected to drive more young people into the profession, increasing competition and pushing Utah’s universities to be more selective and competitive.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Read more about the Task Force’s recommendations and the expected outcomes in Envision Utah’s report: A Vision for Teacher Excellence.
- Like the recommendations in the report? Contact your state representative and state senator and ask them to support policies that implement these recommendations. Find out who represents you and how to contact them at le.utah.gov.