Advancing Quality Teaching for All Schools: Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on the Teaching Workforce

Thumbnail for cover of the briefThe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis will undoubtedly have dire consequences forall sectors of public education. The rapid transition to remote modes of instruction in thespring of 2020 and the subsequent anxiety about the start of the 2020–21 academic year have highlighted the critical need for well-prepared educators. Although calls for additional funding for public education are significant, at the time of this writing, a federal bailout is still in question, which leaves most state education agencies (SEAs) with grim outlooks and limited options. The impact of the pandemic alone has led to speculation regarding impacts to the teaching profession. Education scholars and polls suggest shifting trends: decreased enrollment in educator preparation programs, decreased teacher interest in staying in the profession, and increased considerations for retirement. 
Our team at the GTL Center has been watching historical and current trends in the teacher labor market and has considerable concern for the impacts COVID-19 will have on the profession and vulnerable student populations. Addressing teacher shortages has been our
focus for years. We recognize that forecasted and potential workforce trends may further exacerbate the lack of access to effective teachers in underserved communities. The pandemic and social unrest of 2020 will not reduce the number of students who need great teachers. In fact, the need for great teachers and leaders is now greater than ever, particularly for the students most affected by the crises at hand.
This paper is intended for SEAs as they consider the short-term and long-term implications that COVID-19 will have on the educator workforce. We include key trends in the teacher workforce and consider potential impacts on the teaching profession. Following these trends and considerations, we provide a section that includes guiding principles for addressing changes in the teaching workforce. At the end of the paper, we discuss how SEA teams can navigate new funding streams to address impacts to the profession.