At the core of our promise of equity and excellence in public education is ensuring every student has a highly qualified and effective teacher throughout their educational career.
Amid a persistent teacher shortage nationwide, the state Department of Education continues to aggressively recruit the best candidates entrusted with our students’ learning as we implement longer-term strategies aimed at growing the state’s pipeline of teachers.
Over the past year our recruitment efforts have been targeted locally and on the mainland, where we’ve had success finding talented educators who make Hawaii their home.
The reality is there simply are not enough graduates coming out of our teacher preparation programs to maintain a workforce of 13,000 teachers. We know we must build capacity locally as we continually improve our retention efforts to protect our greatest asset — our employees.
The department hires about 1,200 teachers a year. We see roughly 1,000 voluntary separations a year, with retirements making up nearly one-third and others leaving for various reasons, including leaving Hawaii, changing jobs or personal reasons.
For the 2016-17 school year, we hired 387 graduates from 10 Hawaii-based state approved teacher education programs, including the University of Hawaii and Chaminade University. Another 572 teachers were hired with out-of-state teaching degrees.
The gap is filled — often temporarily as recruiting is ongoing — with vetted substitutes (some of them licensed, retired teachers) and those working toward a teaching degree.
Over the past year the department completed recruiting trips to Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Ohio, Portland and Tampa — areas where we’ve had success in the past. These trips yielded more than 350 viable candidates, and so far more than 120 have accepted a teaching position.
We’ve also participated in several online job fairs, allowing us to interact with hundreds of candidates worldwide.
Our hiring drives and other initiatives have resulted in more teachers coming into the DOE. We’ve seen a 10 percent increase since 2013 in the overall number of newly employed teachers.
Our data also show we’re hiring more experienced teachers. We’ve reduced the percentage of teachers being hired with no prior teaching experience by nearly 5 percentage points over the last five years.
And our new teachers are more prepared: We’ve reduced by three points year-over-year the number of teachers who have not completed a teacher education program.
Meanwhile, we are working to grow capacity locally through initiatives including:
- Grow Our Own: This state-funded program provides tuition stipends and a flexible schedule with online courses through UH-Manoa for post-baccalaureate teaching certificates. There is a three-year teaching commitment required.
- Troops to Teachers: The department recently was awarded a five-year federal grant to support recruitment of military veterans for a second career in teaching.
- Compensation study: We will be conducting a compensation study that factors in cost of living to establish a baseline of how Hawaii’s teacher pay compares nationally.
- Talent management approach: We are shifting away from a traditional human resources framework and are pivoting to a talent management approach focused on talent acquisition, talent development and talent retention.
Our recruitment efforts are coupled with comprehensive supports for new hires. When teachers new to the profession join the DOE, we provide an induction and mentoring guarantee to help ensure their success during their first three years.
One of the mindset shifts initiated under schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is that we discontinue practices that don’t produce results. We have to be willing to try new things and take bold action. It is with this mindset that we are approaching recruitment and retention and are confident we can close the gap.