Florida Public Schools Are Short of Science, Math and English Teachers | Orlando Area News | Orlando

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The State Board of Education is expected to approve a report on Wednesday that details a shortage of certified science, English and math teachers in Florida public schools.

The annual report highlights issues such as the shortage of certified teachers in subjects such as general science, physics and chemistry compared to areas such as elementary education. In addition, it details factors such as teacher education programs producing relatively few science and math teachers.

“Shortage areas…represent areas of certification where substantial proportions of teachers who are not certified in the appropriate field are hired to teach such courses, where significant vacancies exist, and where post-secondary institutions are not producing enough of graduates to meet the needs of the Florida K-12 population,” the report states.

The report, which will be presented to the state board at a meeting in Pensacola, recommends the designation of “critical teacher shortage areas” for the 2019-20 school year. State law requires that these shortage areas be identified annually.

Eight areas are designated as having critical shortages, with a general science category topping the list. It is followed by English; mathematics; English for speakers of other languages; a category of physical sciences that includes chemistry and physics; reading; technical education; and a broad category of exceptional students in education, which includes students who receive services for issues such as hearing loss, physical disability, learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.

Using a formula that takes into account the number of courses offered, English had the highest percentage of courses taught by teachers without the appropriate certification. The report says school districts “prefer to hire teachers who are certified in the appropriate (fields) for the courses they teach when possible to ensure students are learning Florida standards at the required level of rigor.” .

Concerns about shortages of qualified teachers in certain subjects, such as math and science, have been around for years — and aren’t unique to Florida. A 2016 report by the States Education Commission said the evidence was “insufficient to support claims of a growing national teacher shortage”, but it said problems existed in some areas.

“Teacher shortages are often limited to certain subjects such as math, science, and special education,” the United States Education Commission report says. “Since (the 1999-2000 school year), staffing issues have decreased but remain in math and special education, but since 2003-2004, staffing issues in science have not improved. Colleges in many states overproduce applicants with expertise in already understaffed and low-demand subjects such as elementary education and underproduce applicants with expertise in understaffed and high-demand subjects such as science and math.

The new Florida report also indicates that schools that received “D” grades for performance over the past three years have higher percentages of off-screen teachers than other schools.

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