Supply and Demand for Public School Teachers in Wisconsin

WCER Working Paper No. 2018-2

Peter Goff, Bradley Carl, and Minseok Yang

January 2018, 56 pp.

ABSTRACT: This report presents findings on key features of the Wisconsin teacher labor market, including mobility, attrition, supply, and demand. We use data from multiple sources (state staffing and credentialing files, application and vacancy information, and statewide survey data on perceptions of staffing challenges) to (a) establish a common vocabulary around categories of labor supply—specifically which positions are high supply, which are medium supply, and which are low supply; (b) provide a baseline against which subsequent reports can build and future policies can be assessed; (c) provide a common base of empirical evidence to focus and foster debate; and (d) identify aspects of the teacher labor market that are problematic. Key findings include:

  • High attrition rates among those in low-supply positions exacerbate staffing challenges.
  • There are two external applicants (those not currently teaching in a Wisconsin public school) for every one internal applicant; yet, in the low-supply category, this external-to-internal applicant ratio is closer to 1:1, suggesting that policies that increase the labor supply may be warranted for these positions.
  • There is a marked increase in the use of emergency credentialing to bring teachers entering the labor market into classrooms, and there is an increase in the number of individuals who remain on emergency certificates in consecutive years. Use of emergency credentialing appears incongruous with policy intent, as district leaders report using this tactic to fill 30% of high-supply vacancies.
  • The prime hiring times are early March through mid-May, which therefore is the optimal time for districts to find candidates across all three labor supply categories.
  • Opinions as to whether a teacher shortage exists vary with the kind of position being filled. According to district leaders, low-supply positions draw “too few” applicants (seldom more than 10 per vacancy), reinforcing perceptions of a labor shortage. In contrast, drawing fewer than 18 applicants for high-supply positions is considered too small of an applicant pool by district leaders; the perception of a teacher shortage arises with roughly half of the vacancies for these high-supply positions.
  • Regardless of the depth of the vacancy pool, district administrators perceive a lack of quality in applicants; they consider 83% of applicants for low-supply positions, 64% of medium-supply applicants, and 50% of high-supply applicants to be of low quality.

Full Paper

keywords: teacher mobility, attrition, supply and demand; labor supply; teacher shortage; Wisconsin teacher labor market