The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced today the launch of a new digitally-powered recruitment platform — TeachMO.org — to identify and cultivate the next generation of teachers throughout the state. This is a collaborative effort, supported by TEACH, a national nonprofit organization, as well as schools, universities, and education organizations across the state.
Highly qualified teachers create the largest outcomes for students, and the benefits of a great teacher last throughout a student’s life. Yet, Missouri — like other states across the nation — faces a teacher shortage. To address the need for qualified and diverse teachers in Missouri schools, TeachMO.org brings together K-12 schools, postsecondary teacher preparation programs, government agencies, community organizations, and nonprofits to improve the perception of the teaching profession and develop a statewide system to attract the future pipeline of Missouri teachers.
TeachMO.org is one of many recruitment and retention initiatives into which the state is investing $50 million over the next three years. Other projects include the Teacher Education Recruitment and Retention Grants and the Pathways to Teaching Careers Program.
“Research continues to show the number one school-level factor that impacts a student’s learning is their teacher,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “I hope Missouri families, educators, and K-12 stakeholders take note of this new TeachMO.org campaign and can see our agency’s commitment to addressing this serious issue for our state.”
TeachMO.org acts as the centralized hub for prospective teachers to explore the profession, access free, comprehensive resources, and receive support in applying to educator preparation programs. Free resources include 1:1 coaching, scholarships, reimbursements for application fees, and step-by-step checklists that walk future teachers through the application process. In addition, a statewide public service announcement (PSA) and digital advertising will leverage TV, radio, and web platforms to elevate the perception of the teaching profession and generate interest among future teachers.
“As a proud supporter of public education, I know that great teachers are crucial to the workforce development goals of my administration,” Governor Mike Parson said. “Well-trained, effective teachers ensure Missouri students graduate ready to be successful in whatever path they pursue, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the teachers in my life. We are thrilled to see DESE prioritizing and investing in this important effort.”
Over the last decade, enrollment in Missouri teacher preparation programs has declined more than 25 percent. While this much of a decline impacts all schools, it specifically affects schools with high percentages of students of color, schools with high percentages of students in poverty, and urban and rural schools the most. In addition, the decline makes filling hard-to-staff content areas such as special education, math, and science, as well as recruiting male candidates and teacher candidates of color, more challenging. Many urban districts are struggling to find teachers that reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of their students, and rural districts are having difficulties identifying teachers who have training to support the unique challenges their students face.
In Missouri, average teacher attrition rates for the last six years are more than 11 percent. This is higher than the nationwide average of 8 percent or the average 4 percent in high performing countries. In short, too many teachers leave the profession, and there are fewer teachers available to replace them. As a result, when schools cannot find teachers, they are forced to leave positions vacant or fill vacant positions with teachers who aren’t certified for that content area.
All Missouri educator preparation programs, community colleges, school districts, and mission-aligned organizations will be invited to join this collaborative effort to recruit the next generation of teachers and retain the current teacher workforce.