Educator departures continue to outpace new SC teacher grads

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — According to the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA), a little more than 2,000 people graduated from teacher preparation programs at South Carolina colleges this year.

The data comes from the Commission on Higher Education (CHE). CERRA began collecting this data for their yearly educator supply and demand report six years ago. They said this year we saw the fewest number of graduates since they began tracking it.

CERRA’s report shows close to 6,000 teachers left their jobs before the start of the new school year.

Dr. Thomas Hodges is an Executive Associate Dean at the University of South Carolina’s College of Education. He has been looking at ways to tackle the state’s teacher shortage problem.

“I think what we have to do is help meet the needs of the state in a variety of different,” he said.

According to Hodges, there’s been a national decline in education graduates but there’s been an increase in the number of people taking alternate pathways to become teachers.

“Some of that interest may be waning in traditional pathways but we are seeing a growth in nontraditional students,” he said.

Hodges said that colleges and universities in South Carolina are preparing enough educators fill vacancies due to retirements and normal attrition in the field. But they cannot bring in enough future educators to account for the amount of teachers who leave before retirement.

“We have to think about how we retain teachers. Our teacher shortage would not be nearly as acute if we took strides to reduce the number of teachers leaving the profession and not just attempting to fill a bucket with a big hole at the other end and thinking filling the bucket will fix our problems,” Hodges said.

According to CERRA’s report, 42% of the nearly 6,000 teachers who left their jobs in 2020 had less than five years of experience.

Hodges said improving working conditions for teachers in South Carolina could go a long way. “If we are going to attract the next generation of teachers into the profession we have to show the current teacher workforce our support,” he said.

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