The Texas Education Agency on March 10 announced the creation of a Teacher Vacancy Task Force that will bring together superintendents, teachers, human resource officers and other stakeholders from districts across the state.

The announcement comes on the heels of a March 7 letter sent by Gov. Greg Abbott to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath calling for the creation of the task force.

“The ongoing and increasing shortage of full-time and substitute teachers in schools across the state demands a thoughtful, creative conversation to develop strategies to attract, train and retain the teachers our students need,” Abbott wrote in the letter.

According to a TEA press release announcing the creation of the task force, population growth in Texas and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have been contributing factors to the staffing shortages.

School districts across the state have struggled to fill vacancies and retain teachers, and a study conducted by the Charles Butt Foundation found that 68% of teachers surveyed considered leaving the profession in 2021, compared to 58% in 2020.

The study found that high levels of work-related stress, feeling undervalued, excessive workload, too many administrative burdens and low pay were some of the major contributing factors to a teacher’s consideration of leaving.

Some primary goals of the task force will be to understand the challenges districts are facing related to teacher vacancies; develop recommendations for regulatory or other policy changes for TEA; and provide feedback on TEA initiatives designed to help impact vacancies.

The group will also share best practices for addressing critical teacher vacancy and shortage areas, and explore opportunities for certification, placement and hiring flexibilities, according to the release.

The TEA plans to have a designated teacher panel in task force meetings, according to the release, and is expected to use input from current teachers to drive conversations. The group is expected to meet monthly for one year.

Visit the TEA’s Teacher Vacancy Task Force website for more information and for a list of task force members.