New SREB Study Offers Insight on Teacher Trends
Report analyzes recent data on the preparation, demographics, turnover, satisfaction and more.

News SREB News Release

new report from the Southern Regional Education Board shows that teacher vacancies, shortages and morale continued to worsen in recent years. Meanwhile, new pathways into the profession hold promise for attracting new educators.

Teacher Labor Market Trends: Insights from Two Southern States features summaries of nationwide research and a detailed look at data in Kentucky and Tennessee over the last decade. SREB conducted the study with researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education to help address a growing teacher shortage trend across the country.

“The goal of the research is to offer insights for education leaders and policymakers as they target solutions specific to their states and districts,” said Project Manager Megan Boren, who leads SREB’s teacher workforce policy efforts. ”The findings suggest focusing on ways to prepare, support and reward educators appropriately.”

Some highlights from the findings and interactive charts include:

  • The teacher workforce aged: More teachers overall were older than 50 in 2023 than in 2017, in both states. The share of new teachers younger than 30 continued to fall.
  • Non-traditional routes prepared a broader group of teachers: A larger share of male teachers and teachers of color entered the profession through alternative prep options designed for people without an undergraduate degree in education. New hires from non-traditional pathways were also older, on average, in both states.
  • Inflation outpaced salary raises: Average salaries increased by over $4,000 in Kentucky and by almost $7,000 in Tennessee. But inflation-adjusted salaries declined.

The report also details recent trends for:

  • Teachers’ plans to leave or stay in the profession and why
  • Turnover rates by age, race and ethnicity
  • Teacher satisfaction with their preparation for the job
  • When early-career teachers became interested in the profession

In a related project earlier this year, SREB and Vanderbilt University researchers completed The Next Generation of Teachers: A Study of Generation Z’s Interest in the Teaching Profession.

That study examined ACT survey data about high school students’ intentions and included a review of existing literature on the topic. Researchers also analyzed detailed data from Kentucky and Tennessee, two states that link student and teacher data, disaggregated by demographics and other variables. They also interviewed Gen Z teacher candidates and newly hired teachers in the two states. 

The study pointed to promising solutions that could lead to a larger, more diverse and better prepared pool of younger educators in the near future such as: 

  • Expanding early recruitment in high school
  • Improving alternative pathways
  • Establishing more dedicated support for new teachers

SREB President Stephen L. Pruitt said this kind of data on teacher workforce trends is critical to putting great teachers in every classroom.

“If we don’t broaden our horizon, we’re setting ourselves up for even worse problems tomorrow,” Pruitt said. “We have got to think ahead because the changes that work won’t happen overnight.”

Contact: Janita Poe, SREB News Manager, at or 404-879-5516, ext. 216

The Southern Regional Education Board works with states, districts and schools to improve education at every level, from early childhood through doctoral education and the workforce. An interstate compact and a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Atlanta, SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislators to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region.