SREB Teacher Workforce Data and Education Roundtables
Recruiting and retaining teachers is increasingly difficult, making it a challenge for every student to have a great teacher. There are too few experienced, prepared and certified teachers – and the most effective ones are concentrated in more affluent schools. Many state leaders are working to find solutions that will elevate the profession so schools can attract new teachers and retain current talent.
Education Roundtables in SREB States
After a two-year Teacher Preparation Commission concluded in 2018, SREB offered to assist state leaders who wanted to explore the commission’s recommendations in their home states. Since then, SREB has assisted several states with roundtables, funded by private grants, as a way to collaborate and sort through the complicated and state-specific details of improving the teaching profession and addressing educator shortages.
SREB does not begin these conversations with a specific agenda or recommendations but rather works side-by-side with state leaders, providing national, regional and state-level research and keeping the process organized as they explore ideas, consider recommendations and form consensus.
North Carolina was the first SREB state to begin a roundtable, in 2018. Groups in Alabama (2019-2021) and Mississippi (2020-2021) were inspired by ideas from North Carolina and reflected some of those in their own proposals. An Oklahoma group (2019-2020) proposed solutions specific to the state’s recruitment needs. These states are in different stages of considering recommendations or putting them into action. SREB education human capital roundtables >
The North Carolina Education Human Capital Roundtable
The North Carolina Education Human Capital Roundtable met from December 2018 through May 2022. At the outset, funders and SREB asked leaders of North Carolina agencies and organizations involved with education if they would like to participate in the discussions. The roundtable members later invited additional advocates and educators as the conversations evolved, to provide more perspectives.
The objective the group set for itself was to explore ways to “increase the quality, quantity and diversity of teacher candidates and prepare them to be licensed, hired, supported and retained as highly effective educators in North Carolina schools.”
After two years of research and debate on these issues, as well as focus groups with educators, higher education leaders and association leaders, the group had put together a proposal of ideas.
In early 2021, the roundtable asked to present their proposal to elevate the teaching profession to the State Board of Education. The State Board found value in the ideas and remanded the proposal to PEPSC for public review and refinement. PEPSC invited many roundtable members to join review committees to share their research and work.
The roundtable continued to meet until spring 2022 to discuss additional research and data and how best to communicate their ideas.
(Since March 2021, PEPSC has been leading a public review process of the proposal, including teacher feedback, working toward a vetted plan for consideration by the State Board of Education and General Assembly. Public review process > )
SREB’s role with the roundtables was to coordinate meetings, provide research and facilitate conversations as the members explored ideas and potential solutions for the specific needs of each state. For example, SREB staff compiled information on particular policies as well as data available across the teaching career. Staff members who are trained facilitators kept conversations moving, and they helped organize focus groups and interviews with educators and higher education leaders for feedback.
The North Carolina Education Human Capital Roundtable was funded by grants to SREB from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Belk Foundation. Information from the Belk Foundation >
After January 2021, SREB coordinated meeting dates and agenda items for the group. When the roundtable ended in spring 2022, SREB’s coordinator role was complete. SREB will continue to provide research and data as requested.
How SREB works
Support, research, convene
As an interstate compact, SREB supports the work of states to improve education. Our role is to provide research, help leaders learn from the data, and share policies and practices that are promising or successful. As a convener, we bring together leaders within or across states to explore critical issues and solutions that might work at home. If we offer recommendations, they are based on input from SREB states, and we are clear that each state knows best whether or how these ideas will work at home.
When states or schools decide to implement policies and practices locally, they sometimes request assistance from SREB. In certain areas, we offer programs to help them move to the next step. These range from school improvement services across the nation to support for minority doctoral students to facilitating roundtables by request as a critical friend, trusted partner, and objective provider of research.
SREB seeks grants or contracts to accomplish such initiatives that bring states, districts, schools and universities benefits outside the organization’s core services. What we learn in states and schools feeds our research and the potential solutions we share with others.
SREB and educator workforce policy
Elevate the teaching profession, rebuild respect
More broadly, at the 16-state regional level, SREB’s role is to help Southern states learn from one another to improve education. We have begun sharing lessons learned from states, including from the teacher workforce roundtable states, to help others grappling with similar issues.
Based on decades of listening to teachers across the South, studying state policies and compiling data on the teacher workforce, we encourage state leaders to look at the entire career continuum to elevate the teaching profession and rebuild respect for educators. Only by addressing the root causes of teacher shortages can we rebuild respect for the profession and make it an attractive and rewarding career.
We want leaders to consider the big picture: States will need to address all pieces of the puzzle: entry pathways into teaching, licensure policies that encourage professional growth, early career support and mentoring, and compensation packages.
The Southern Regional Education Board works with states to improve education at every level, from early childhood through postsecondary education. An interstate compact established by governors and legislators in 1948, SREB is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization.
SREB’s mission is to guide and support states as they advance all levels of education to improve the social and economic vitality of the SREB region.
SREB’s vision is that each child and adult in the SREB region will have high-quality educational opportunities that build on the rich diversity of the region and lead to productive, meaningful lives and robust economies.