Evidence-based Solutions to Teacher Shortages

Kristof De Witte, Willem De Cort, Letizia Gambi

The present report provides a targeted review of possible interventions that could be implemented to address the problem of not having enough qualified teachers to meet the demand for education in a particular region or subject area. We seek to investigate the underlying evidence for each intervention, and to evaluate its effectiveness in addressing teacher shortages. As we will argue, solving teacher shortages requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the multiple factors that contribute to the problem: (1) attracting people to the profession; (2) retaining teachers in the profession; and (3) improving teacher quality. Because teacher shortages are a complex issue, there is no ‘silver bullet’, and interventions to attract and retain teachers and improve teacher quality are required at various levels, i.e. at the level of individual teachers, in schools, and at system level. Each level of intervention focuses on different aspects of the problem.

This report is intended for policymakers dealing with national or regional compulsory education systems, and not as a solution for individual schools or districts. Therefore, policymakers need to carefully consider the effectiveness and efficiency of any of the solutions proposed to ensure that they are appropriate for the needs of their education system. At this point, it is important to recognise that what might work at the level of an individual school might not be effective or efficient when applied across an education system as a whole. This is known as the ‘fallacy of composition’, whereby an assumption is made that what works for one part of the system will work for the whole.

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