Arizona’s Teacher Talent Pipeline to address teacher shortage

Education leaders across the state are working to fill many open teaching spots using an innovative recruitment model implemented in other industries.

The Teacher Talent Pipeline (TTP) aims to combat the issue of adequate supply and retention of quality teachers.

The TTP is led through a partnership of the Arizona Chamber Foundation, its A for Arizona initiative, and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

TTP stems from the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management initiative, which aims to help companies attract and retain employees for skilled positions.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Senior Director of Policy and Programs Caitlin Codella explained that just like many employers, schools often face trouble hiring teachers who are ready to enter the classroom and teach students.

“Arizona, as part of our [Talent Pipeline Management] pilot project, decided that they wanted to apply that to education as an industry because a school district is an employer,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Director of Programs and Operations Jaimie Francis said.

The lack of an adequate teacher supply leads to an extra burden on teachers because it leaves them with larger class sizes and the additional role of training teachers who are not quite ready to teach.

“This is sort of a micro case for a macro challenge, which is that there is a serious teacher shortage we’re facing in multiple districts across the country,” Codella said. “The challenge is not just finding the talent, but also getting them in to work ready.”

School leaders across Arizona are finding innovative, unique ways to address this issue.

Calvin Baker, superintendent for the Vail Unified School District, spearheaded a teacher certification program to train interested people of various backgrounds to become teachers.

“We’ve had good success with most of the people who come through the program,” Baker said. “We have found that the diversity of their background and the diversity of their basic education is enriching not only to our students, but also to our staff meetings and our efforts to solve other problems.” Baker said.

Baker’s efforts were made possible when Governor Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1042 in law in 2017.

The law allows “highly-qualified professionals who have significant experience in a subject matter, possess a higher education degree, and have passed a background check to be certified to teach,” according to a press release from the Governor’s Office.

“Getting talent that has been in the workforce also into the role of teaching is a really unique way of bringing the world of work to life in the classroom and understanding the skills is the classroom and how those connect to what you’ll be doing once you’ve graduated,” Codella said.

Sierra Ciaramella

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