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​Supporting and Stabilizing the Educator Workforce

  1. Describe the extent to which the State is facing shortages of educators, education administration personnel, and other school personnel involved in safely reopening schools, and the extent to which they vary by region/type of school district and/or groups of educators (e.g., special educators and related services personnel and paraprofessionals; bilingual or English as a second language educators; STEM educators; CTE educators; early childhood educators). Cite specific data on shortages and needs where available.

    Taken together, the number of educators requesting emergency permits, the number of educators already certified who are at least 55 years old, those who have been educators for 30 or more years, and the number of newly certified educators all signal the health of the educator workforce in each school district and charter school.

    Emergency Permits: During the 2019-20 school year, PDE issued 18,208 emergency permits. With the exception of Sullivan County, at least one educator in every single school district in the remaining 66 counties across the commonwealth applied for an emergency permit to allow them to continue working. Almost a third of the educators who applied for emergency permits are in three geographic areas: School District of Philadelphia (SDP), with 3,298 educators (18 percent), followed by 1,427 educators in the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 (8 percent), and 689 educators in the Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12 (4 percent).

    Educators Ages 55+: As of the 2019-20 school year, over 24,000 educators are at least 55 years old, representing 16 percent of the total educator workforce who are approaching, at, or past retirement age. Of these educators, there are 13,719 ages 55 to 59 (57 percent); 7,914 educators ages 60 to 64 (33 percent); 2,215 educators ages 65 to 69 (9 percent); and 353 educators who are between 70 and 87 years old (1 percent).

    Educators with 30+ Years of Service: As of the 2019-20 school year, about 7,965 educators have at least 30 years of service. Among them, 1,587 (20 percent) have served 30 years; 6,037 (76 percent) have served between 31 and 40 years; 327 (4 percent) have served between 41 and 50 years; and 14 (0.2 percent) have served between 51 and 59 years.

    Newly Certified Educators: PDE issued 5,683 new certifications during the 2019-20 school year. About 80 percent, or 4,593 were issued to classroom teachers; another 11 percent, or 642, were for support staff involved in coordination of services; 6 percent, or 348, were in the other student support services staff category; and 3 percent, or 165, were for administrative/supervisory roles.

    While a small proportion of newly certified educators are ages 55 and older, overall, the number of educators with emergency permits, those who are both 55 and older and have at least 30 years of service, and the number of newly certified educators points to a startling scenario that is not unique to Pennsylvania. In short, the commonwealth's significant demand for educators largely outweighs its supply.

    Using SDP for illustrative purposes, among the 284 educators certified to teach kindergarten for the 2019–20 school year, almost a third are at least 55 years old or above, have served in these roles for at least 30 years, or a combination thereof. On the other hand, only 4 percent were newly certified to teach kindergarten.

    A similar pattern emerges when examining the 17,993 educators certified to teach Grades 1-3 in SDP. About a quarter of these educators are either at least 55 years old or above, have served in these roles for at least 30 years, or are a combination thereof, while only 3 percent are newly certified in this subject area.

    Pennsylvania's data on teacher shortage areas and needs comes from PIMS and the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS). While PIMS is used to collect and report state- and federally mandated data, TIMS is the data system that PDE uses to process educator certification applications. Educators who received a new certificate during the most recent school year for which data are available are represented as "new members" of the educator workforce in Table F1.

    In the table, data on existing and new certificate holders do not add up to 100 percent because they exclude educators who fall somewhere between those who were newly certified during the most recent school year for which data are available as well as those who are 55 years of age or younger and/or have less than 30 years of service. Data on emergency permits are based on the total number of permits that PDE issued in the most recent school year available. LEAs request emergency certificates for a variety of reasons, some of which take into account anticipated openings or an inability to fill a vacant position with a certified individual. While LEAs may not end up employing all individuals with emergency permits, the number of permits issued serves as an indicator of critical staffing needs.

Table F1. Data on educator shortages and needs, 2019-2020.

Educator Workforce Approaching or at Retirement Age, 2019-20

Number of Educators1
Number 55 Years Old and Above Percent 55 Years Old and Above Number with 30 or More Years of Service Percent with 30 or More Years of Service Number 55 Years Old and Above and 30 or More Years of Service Percent 55 Years Old and Above and 30 or More Years of Service

Bilingual educators
Coordinators/ Support staff4,2681,03724.3%3909.1%3157.4%
CTE educators3,10386527.9%2317.4%1946.3%
Early childhood educators5267013.3%224.2%183.4%
Elementary teachers (K-6)39,6275,41213.7%2,0165.1%1,5934.0%
English 7-128,2021,00112.2%2873.5%2332.8%
English as a second language educators1,95841721.3%502.6%381.9%
Family consumer science PK-121,03028828.0%555.3%525.0%
Fine and performing arts4,14267316.2%3648.8%3087.4%
Gifted education1,00422522.4%828.2%606.0%
Health and physical education PK-126,05895115.7%4136.8%3626.0%
School librarians1,61140525.1%1267.8%1036.4%
School nurses and Health staff2,12396345.4%582.7%562.6%
Social-emotional support staff: School counselors4,81865513.6%2144.4%1783.7%
Social-emotional support staff: School psychologists1,60923814.8%452.8%422.6%
Social-emotional support staff: Social workers66311617.5%81.2%71.1%
Social studies6,77486512.8%2413.6%1972.9%
Special education educators21,0222,81613.4%8714.1%7363.5%
STEM educators: Computer science82016119.6%546.6%425.1%
STEM educators: Environmental education991414.1%11.0%11.0%
STEM educators: Life and physical sciences7,3021,18616.2%3895.3%3004.1%
STEM educators: Mathematics8,5601,18913.9%4375.1%3263.8%
STEM educators: Technology education83411613.9%546.5%455.4%

1 The number of educators represents the size of that workforce. The columns to the right reflect a cross-section of these educators, focusing on those who are approaching or at retirement age.

New Members of Educator Workforce, 2019-20

Number of Educators2
Number Newly Certified Percent Newly Certified
Number Newly Certified and 55 Years Old and Above
Percent Newly Certified and 55 Years Old and Above
Bilingual educators3,1151324.2%70.2%
Coordinators/ Support staff4,268902.1%90.2%
CTE educators3,1031223.9%150.5%
Early childhood educators526326.1%00.0%
Elementary teachers (K-6)39,6271,3753.5%17<0.1%
English 7-128,2023223.9%3<0.1%
English as a second language educators1,958834.2%30.2%
Family consumer science PK-121,030333.2%40.4%
Fine and performing arts4,1421854.5%1<0.1%
Gifted education1,004111.1%00.0%
Health and physical education PK-126,0582113.5%2<0.1%
School librarians1,611251.6%20.1%
School nurses and Health staff2,1231135.3%110.5%
Social-emotional support staff: School counselors4,8182004.2%2<0.1%
Social-emotional support staff: School psychologists1,609976.0%60.4%
Social-emotional support staff: Social workers663426.3%00.0%
Social studies6,7741942.9%50.1%
Special education educators21,0221,0184.8%300.1%
STEM educators: Computer science820202.4%10.1%
STEM educators: Environmental education9922.0%00.0%
STEM educators: Life and physical sciences7,3022703.7%130.2%
STEM educators: Mathematics8,5602663.1%100.1%
STEM educators: Technology education834253.0%10.1%

2The number of educators represents the size of that workforce. The columns to the right reflect a cross-section of these educators, focusing on those who are new members.

Critical Staffing Areas, 2019-20

Number of Emergency Permits Issued
Percent of Permits Issued3
Bilingual educators1781.0%
Coordinators/ Support staff160.1%
CTE educators5122.8%
Early childhood educatorsn/a
Elementary teachers (K-6)1,2486.7%
English 7-122491.3%
English as a second language educators1410.8%
Family consumer science PK-12600.3%
Fine and performing arts410.2%
Gifted educationn/a
Health and physical education PK-121220.7%
School librarians340.2%
School nurses and Health staff4732.6%
Social-emotional support staff: School counselors350.2%
Social-emotional support staff: School psychologists9<0.1%
Social-emotional support staff: Social workersn/a
Social studies1300.7%
Special education educators1,1356.1%
STEM educators: Computer science740.4%
STEM educators: Environmental educationn/a
STEM educators: Life and physical sciences1460.8%
STEM educators: Mathematics1911.0%
STEM educators: Technology education330.2%

3 During the 2019-20 school year, PDE issued 18,208 emergency permits. This column shows the percent of the total number of emergency permits by certification shortage area.

  1. Describe how the SEA will assist its LEAs in identifying the most urgent areas of shortages or potential shortages, with plans for individual LEAs facing the most significant needs (e.g., by avoiding layoffs, providing high-quality professional learning opportunities, and addressing the impact of stress or trauma on educators). Include a description of how other Federal COVID-19 funding (e.g., ESSER and GEER funds under the CARES Act and CRRSA Act) have already been used to avoid layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    PDE plans to upgrade both PIMS and TIMS to anticipate educator staffing needs at LEAs across Pennsylvania. These necessary upgrades will enable PDE to: (1) help LEAs anticipate and plan for staffing needs; (2) share these data with colleges and universities with educator preparation programs to better align the postsecondary sector to LEA staffing needs; and (3) produce additional, more detailed educator diversity reports by school entity and educator preparation program.

    Since ESSER I and II and GEER I and II funds continue to be expended by school entities to implement COVID-19 mitigation efforts, it is too soon to know how funding was used locally to avoid layoffs. However, throughout the pandemic, Pennsylvania has taken steps to minimize the impact to school staffing and the educator workforce.

    Enacted in March 2020, Act 13 of 2020 (Act 13) allowed school employees to continue to receive compensation and benefits through the end of the 2019-20 school year and for PDE to continue to provide 2019-20 subsidy payments, reimbursements, allocations, and other payments that the schools would have received had the pandemic of 2020 not occurred. Act 13 also permitted school entities to request that the Secretary of Education waive specific statutory requirements related to a school entity's staffing needs or instructional program or operations for the 2019-20 school year as a result of the pandemic. In total, PDE processed 53 extensions and waivers, meaning educators could continue working and have additional time to complete the requirements of their teaching certificates or emergency permits. Act 13 also granted all Pennsylvania educators an additional year to earn their required continuing professional education credits.

    To further assist school entities with mitigating potential staffing shortages, Pennsylvania enacted Act 136 of 2020 in November. Under this state law, students entering an educator preparation program between November 25, 2020, and June 30, 2021, were not required to complete the basic skills requirements for entrance into the program, and PDE was permitted to do the following:

    • Issue a temporary provisional certificate to an educator who completed all requirements for Level I certification except for the certification assessments when the assessment was not available;
    • Issue an exceptional case permit for an educator who was in their final year of Level I in the 2019-20 and could not convert to a Level II because an assessment was not available;
    • Issue a temporary certificate through June 30, 2021, to an instructional certified educator seeking certification through an add-on test, but the relevant assessment was not available; and
    • Extend an emergency permit issued during the 2020-21 school year when the educator could not meet the credit requirements or schedule and complete a required assessment because it had been canceled.

  2. Describe the actions the SEA will take to fill anticipated gaps in certified teachers for the start of the 2021-2022 school year and to what extent the SEA will further support its LEAs in expanding the educator pipeline and educator diversity while addressing the immediate needs of students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic (e.g., recruiting teaching candidates to provide high-dosage tutoring or implementing residencies for teacher candidates).

    In preparation for the 2021–22 school year, PDE has already been processing emergency permits to help LEAs fill the critical staffing needs arising from the pandemic.

    Going forward, PDE plans to build on the early work of its Aspiring to Educate (A2E) pilot program, which identifies and works with high school students of color to mentor and prepare them to go to college and enter teacher preparation programs. The first A2E pilot focused on the Southeastern Pennsylvania region to support the staffing needs of the largest LEA in the commonwealth, the School District of Philadelphia.

    By August 2021, PDE is expecting an evaluation of the A2E pilot that will help inform and shape future pilots. PDE plans to focus the next A2E pilot on diversifying the STEM teacher pipeline across the commonwealth.