Every summer, the state Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Human Resources works hard to fill vacancies caused by various transitions.
From the end of one school year and the start of another, we are adjusting to the movement of hundreds — even thousands — of employees.
Filling teacher vacancies is one of the greatest challenges, as Hawaii shares the national trends of increasing teacher shortages and fewer numbers of individuals entering the profession.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, from school year (SY) 2009-10 through SY 2012-13, there was a 30 percent decline nationwide in enrollment in teacher preparation programs.
To date, there are approximately 460 teacher vacancies for SY16-17, including non-classroom teachers like librarians and registrars.
The DOE’s process for recruiting teachers is rigorous and
comprehensive. We take it very seriously because our employees
work closely with our students and we want the best and
the most qualified at our schools.
Schools are still in the process of interviewing applicants and we are still in the process of adding applicants to the hiring pool.
Between now and Oct. 1, principals will be looking at student enrollment and making final decisions about where teachers are needed for their schools.
News reports have recently floated the teacher vacancy number of 1,600 for SY16-17. However, this number represents the highest estimate of possible vacancies the DOE may see throughout the school year, including mid-year vacancies.
- During SY14-15, we experienced 1,069 voluntary teacher separations. One-third of these were due to teacher retirements; another nearly one-third were identified as involving relocation to the mainland, whether for personal, employment or military reasons.
- During the same year, we also hired 1,090 “new” teachers.
We are continuously recruiting and work closely with the schools to figure out their areas of need throughout the year.
As we compete with other education entities in Hawaii and throughout the country to bring in qualified teachers, our recruitment team participates in online job fairs and both local and out-of-state recruitment drives, advertises in various media outlets and on social media, and collaborates with local institutions of higher education.
In April and May of this year, following Hawaii’s teacher recruiting efforts going viral, we received more than 6,000 applications for teacher positions. The majority of these applications were bogus or from unqualified individuals, but this effort nevertheless resulted in a robust applicant pool that bucked the national trend. We continue, however, to face shortages in critical areas.
The DOE’s process for recruiting teachers is rigorous and comprehensive. We take it very seriously because our employees work closely with our students and we want the best and the most qualified at our schools.
The vetting process starts with a centralized review of an applicant’s qualifications; if they meet the minimum standard, the applicant is then subject to a screening interview.
Upon successful completion of the initial screening, applicants are placed in a “hiring pool” from which referrals are made.
Schools request a list of screened applicants from the hiring pool who meet the criteria identified for a particular opening. The school may request a certain grade level or subject matter expertise; the school may also limit its request to Hawaii-licensed applicants only.
Our principals are empowered in their hiring decisions and our role is to support them by providing quality, vetted applicants, and then again on the back-end by processing teachers once they are hired.
Throughout the DOE, students remain at the center of our decision-making. They are top of mind as we vet each applicant, and continuously look for ways to support our educators.