American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

General Recruitment Information

A report from the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future discusses the importance of making quality teaching and the recruitment of well-prepared teachers the top priority for policy makers. "It has been shown that standards that strengthen teacher knowledge are likely to make a substantial difference for the quality of teaching" (Darling-Hammond, 1999, p. 3). The report continues:

While new teaching standards may hold great possibilities for raising the quality of teacher preparation, these advances will have little import for students-and especially the nation's most vulnerable children-if school districts continue to hire teachers who are unprepared and to assign many teachers outside of their field of expertise...To achieve the educational goals we hold for all children, policy makers must proactively develop strategies that do not trade off student learning against haphazard teacher hiring. (Darling-Hammond, 1999, p. 4)

The goal of American education is to ensure that all students achieve the high standards necessary to lead fulfilling lives and become productive citizens (AFT, 2001). SLPs, as part of the teaching team, play a key role in reaching these goals. "As speech and hearing professionals, we are all very aware that communication disorders can restrict a child's learning and/or social-emotional development, and an adult's employability, general productivity, success, and enjoyment in life" (Logeman, 2000, p. 27).

It is estimated that with public school personnel retirements is increasing annually and the effects of the "Baby Boom echo generation" driving up enrollments in student population, more than 2.4 million teachers will be needed in the next decade (National Center for Education Statistics, 1998, 2001). Reports also indicate that 20% of new teachers leave the profession within 3 years (National Center for Education Statistics, 1998, 2001). Reports also indicate that 20% of new teachers leave the profession within 3 years (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001) and that nearly 50% of all new teachers leave their jobs within 5 years in urban areas (Darling-Hammond, 1998). Innovative recruitment strategies are needed to address the critical projections of personnel shortages.

In a report on solving the dilemmas of teacher supply, demand, and standards, the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (Darling-Hammond, 1999) outlined practical and effective strategies employed by many states and districts. Seven of these have potential for solving the problems that schools face in recruiting and retaining qualified SLPs:

  • Raise teacher standards while equalizing teacher salaries.
    Connecticut's 1986 Education Enhancement Act created a minimum beginning teacher salary and offered state funds to less wealthy districts so that they could reach the target. Within 3 years, Connecticut's cities went from having shortages to having surpluses of teachers, and the quality of teacher preparation and practice rose steadily, along with levels of student achievement.
  • Establish licensing reciprocity across states.
    With more portable licenses, states that currently have shortages can take advantage of the fact that 60,000 newly prepared teachers each year do not find jobs in the states where they prepared to teach, and many veteran teachers leave the profession when they move because license incompatibilities are too costly and time-consuming to overcome.
  • Grant a license to out-of-state entrants who have earned national certification.
  • Create national recruitment initiatives, streamline hiring procedures, and develop online information technologies. Several areas have organized local online information systems for hiring. Candidates can gain access to information about the specifics of vacancies over the Internet, apply by e-mail, be interviewed by videoconference, have their credentials evaluated by state and local officials, and receive an answer from the district within days rather than months. Districts that are able to recruit aggressively and to hire top candidates quickly and professionally do not suffer shortages experienced by districts only a few miles away.
  • Create service scholarship programs to prepare high-ability candidates in fields where shortages exist.
  • Expand teacher education programs in high-need fields like special education, using targeted incentives from federal and state governments to expand the number of slots offered.
  • Create high-quality induction programs.
    According to the Brookings Institution's Brown Center on Education Policy (2001), some of the problem stems from the distribution of shortages in certain areas. It suggests a few promising approaches that would bring teachers to areas of shortage.
    • Allowing teaching licenses to be transferable from state to state
    • Expanding alternative routes to professional certification
    • Modifying uniform salary schedules
    • Offering incentives such as loan forgiveness and cash bonuses
    • Providing more resources to teachers and schools

A survey sponsored by the Bernard Hodes Group and Advance Newsmagazines titled "Talking to Talent/Allied Health Care Voices: 2005 Speech-Language Pathologist & Audiologist Survey" reports information that employers and professional groups may find useful in their efforts to attract and retain SLPs and audiologists. Here are some key findings that may be useful when developing recruitment materials:

Top Reasons for Employment

  • Work schedules, compensation, and growth opportunities.
  • Job satisfaction is a key component in recommending others to a job opening by current employers.
  • Loving their job and opportunities for advancement are factors for recommending the profession to another.
  • Love of the job, helping others, and the challenges the profession offers are reasons that SLPs and audiologists would enter the profession again.

The survey contains some key observations and recommendations for retaining SLPs and audiologists based on the findings listed above. These are:

  • Supervisors need training in techniques that keep people engaged, motivated, and performing at top levels
  • Employers need to be open to flexible scheduling, job sharing, and other alternative work plans.
  • Compensation should meet or exceed competitive ranges.
  • Career paths should be well defined using performance-based promotions as an incentive for professional growth.

Some key observations and recommendations for marketing job openings are:

  • Use techniques to encourage employee referrals such as generous paid rewards for referrals.
  • Use a multifaceted approach to recruitment including employee referral, newspaper ads, the Internet, and a positive presence in the community.

Deciphering Teacher Shortages

In an August, 2008 Teacher magazine article Dr. Jody Shelton, the Executive Director of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, provides her perspective on teacher shortages and solutions. Experts have long been forecasting major teacher shortages, as more than a million educators from the baby boomer generation near retirement and as student enrollments grow. And yet, as many education job seekers know, teaching jobs can be still be very hard to come by. What exactly is going on in the teacher job market?

To get an answer to that question, we recently spoke to Dr. Jody Shelton, the Executive Director of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, about factors contributing to teacher shortages, what schools are doing to attract teachers, and what job-seeking teachers can do to make themselves more marketable.

What factors do you attribute to teacher shortages across the country?

Different locales have different issues. Certain geographic areas lack subject teachers-special education, science and math. Science and math tend to attract people to the business sector. When you look at special education you see the amount of paperwork and involvement in the legal aspect of IEPs. That job is such a tough one to accomplish. Other locations have a difficult time being able to fill positions, including high-risk at-needs urban areas. And teachers in the first five years tend to leave.

And yet, we're seeing a lot of emphasis both at the state level and nationally in promoting and providing mentoring programs that offer a high degree of support. People are finding this effective. The statistics reflect an improvement in teacher retention. From a human resources perspective, there's always frustration in relation to all the certification issues that are out there. I don't necessarily hear our membership talking about one certification for everyone across the country, but there sure is interest in more portability for teacher licensure. So if a high-quality teacher meets the qualifications for certification in that one state, they should be able to be certified in another state. That's one of the frustrations I hear from our members, that the certification levels are different, so different in every state.

What measures are being taken to address teacher shortages?

You see a lot of new incentives in recruiting and hiring teachers to get them on board. There are grow-your-own certification programs, incentives to stay in the classroom, signing bonuses, moving expenses. The community may be allowing teachers to have low-cost housing. And then what you're seeing is a great deal of support for that new teacher. You see mentoring and induction programs and teachers being assured that their assignment is appropriate for a first-year teacher. There's also professional development. When school districts are looking for those star teachers, they offer a lot of customer service to those applicants to attract them.

Have such measures been effective?

We're seeing a lot of emphasis both at the state level and nationally in promoting and providing mentoring programs that offer a high degree of support. People are finding this effective. And you see statistics related to the improvement of teacher retention. Some statistics show 85 to 90 percent retention rates as a result of all recruiting measures.

How do you explain the fact that qualified teachers are having difficulty finding jobs despite nation-wide teacher shortages?

Sometimes teachers are unwilling to broaden their horizons. They say, "I want to go to this particular city and this particular school," and are unable to get a job. Some want to go into fields where there are always teachers. They are always going to be 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers. But when you're looking for kindergarten, 1st, and 6th grade teachers, there aren't as many. You also have to look at specific certification. Is it their experience? Is it their qualifications? There so many new alternatives out there like Teach for America and all kinds of programs to help people get certified. But it's not an easy process. And again, it varies by state.

What advice do you have for teacher candidates who are having a difficult time finding a position?

Be sure that you have a broad search and be willing to go where the position exists. Secondly, if there's an area where you're interested but the job doesn't seem to be available, try to substitute or work as a para-teacher aide in the school or district. If they're watching you, then they'll want you to fill any future teaching positions.

I would also tell teachers to look at their own teaching credentials. You need to be marketable, which means the more areas you're qualified to teach, the more likely you are to get that position. If you're at the secondary level and getting certified in science, make sure it's broad science and not too narrow. Here in Kansas, we have a university program requiring that assignments be in elementary schools and in high schools so teacher candidates are more marketable across the board.

I think you have to get your foot in the door. People are not only looking for highly qualified teachers but high-quality teachers. So you've got to be good. And getting as much experience as possible is the way to do that.

-By Danielle Woods

" Desperately seeking special education teachers: U.S. school districts seek qualified special educators. Offering supportive principals, strong mentoring programs and inclusive training programs" in the publication District Administration (December, 2008)
This article highlights strategies used by school administrators to attract and retain special education teachers and related services professionals.

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