Our Work

Improving State Need Assessments

Written by Michael B. Allen

March 2010

Accompanying the growing call of our nation’s political, business, and education leaders to strengthen the science and mathematics skills of our nation’s children is the recognition that this will not be possible unless we have a sufficient number of well-qualified and effective K-12 science and mathematics teachers. In response, state and university leaders are making commitments to increase significantly the number of science and mathematics teachers they produce, particularly at the secondary level. Few, however, have made these commitments on the basis of a careful assessment of the adequacy of the current science and mathematics teacher workforce.

It is precisely the goal of this report to help state and university leaders develop better assessments of the need for secondary school science and mathematics teachers. The report is part of a larger effort by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities – the Science and Mathematics Teaching Imperative (SMTI) – to support the efforts of its member institutions to strengthen science and mathematics teacher preparation. Especially in an era of declining state resources and retrenched university budgets, a thorough and reliable assessment of the need for science and mathematics teachers is imperative if states and institutions are to respond appropriately and cost-effectively.

This report has four main objectives:

  1. To assist states in assessing the adequacy of their current science and mathematics teacher workforce in terms of both number and quality
  2. To give practical guidance to states and institutions in their efforts to develop reliable future need projections
  3. To provide examples and resources that state and university officials can draw upon
  4. To discuss the practical and theoretical challenges and opportunities that confront the effort to improve projections of teacher supply and demand

Report Units

1. About This Report

This unit notes the origin and purpose of the report and briefly describes its contents.

2. Establishing a State’s Current Need for Science and Mathematics Teachers

Focuses on the analysis of a state’s present need for teachers. It provides guidelines for undertaking such an analysis and discusses the data and complexities involved. Because many of the considerations discussed in this unit also apply to the others, it is the logical starting point for the reader after finishing About This Report.

3. Projecting a State’s Future Need for Science and Mathematics Teachers

Focuses on the analysis of a state’s projected need for teachers, both short-term and long-term. It provides guidelines for carrying out analyses of varying degrees of precision and complexity, and it summarizes the related data and methodological requirements. This unit takes up the methodological issues involved in statistical prediction in greater depth than any of the other core units.

4. Teacher Quality and Licensure

Discusses the importance of considering teacher quality in assessments of the need for science and mathematics teachers. Emphasizes the role and potential of teacher licensure and certification in facilitating such assessments and explains the particular opportunities and challenges involved in credentialing science and mathematics teachers.

5. A Guide to Teacher Data

Identifies in detail the kinds of data on teachers that states need to generate and collect in order to analyze teacher supply, demand, and quality more effectively. The unit also discusses some of the practical challenges involved in improving a state’s teacher data. The recommendations are drawn from a 2003 SHEEO report on the subject written by Richard Voorhees and Gary Barnes.

6. Research Analysis (pdf download)

A research synthesis written by Steven Raphael, this unit discusses, with much greater sophistication and detail than can be found in the project’s core units, the methodological issues and other challenges related to efforts to estimate teacher supply and demand. In addition, the analysis identifies the kinds of research studies that would provide new insights and information that would be helpful to the field. This unit in downloadable pdf format.

7. Selected Resources

This is a limited compendium of resources, classified by subject, which should be helpful to readers seeking further information. It includes examples of national and state teacher need analyses, as well as examples of related analyses, state and national data, and other useful reports. The list also includes reports and websites that contain information and in-depth discussions about teacher quality, teacher licensure, and a number of methodological issues.

8. Summary of Basic Steps for Developing Supply and Demand Estimates

This document summarizes the basic steps involved in developing supply and demand estimates for secondary science and mathematics teachers that were suggested in the report Improving State Need Assessments of Secondary Science and Mathematics Teachers: Challenges, Opportunities, and Recommendations.

This report was funded by the National Science Foundation as award number 0802359. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the various sections of this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.