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Guest contributors

Monika Bandyopadhyay
Suffolk University Law Student

David Barron
Harvard Law School and former Deputy Counsel for the Office of Legal Counsel in the US Department of Justice

Linda Bilmes
Senior lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Assistant Secretary of Commerce during the Clinton Administration.

Brandy H.M. Brooks
Director, Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, Bruner Foundation

Felicia Cote
Rappaport Fellow, Harvard Law School/Harvard Kennedy School.

Amanda Eden
Suffolk University Law School student

Sara Farnum
Student, Suffolk Univ. Law School

Kristin Faucette
Student at Suffolk University Law School

Benjamin Forman
Research Director, MassINC

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday
JD/MBA student at Suffolk University Law School and the Sawyer School of Business

Theodore Kalivas
Boston Green Blog, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy

David Linhart
Student, Boston University School of Law

Antoniya Owens
Research Analyst, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Susan Prosnitz
Senior Advisor, TSA, Washington, DC

Ben Thomas
Boston Green Blog, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy

Matthew Todaro
Student at Boston College Law School

Alexander von Hoffman
Senior Researcher, Joint Center for Housing Studies

Brett Walker
Student, Boston College Law School

Margarita Warren
Student at Suffolk University Law School

Anticipating Change in the Massachusetts Teacher Workforce

Friday, December 10th, 2010
By Antoniya Owens

Originally published in Communities and Banking
December 3, 2010
Antoniya Owens (2009 Rappaport Public Policy Summer Fellow)

Nationwide, baby boom teachers are beginning to retire in large numbers while student enrollment continues to rise. The trend is causing concern about impending shortages in many states. This article summarizes findings from a recent report evaluating future demand and supply dynamics in the Massachusetts teacher workforce. The report covers the academic years 2010-2011 through 2019-2020 and analyzes trends in the Commonwealth as a whole and in its 10 largest school districts.1 The approach may be of interest in other states.


The report employs a teacher supply and demand model similar to that used by previous researchers.2 The model is applied separately to district data for the 10 largest districts and to state data for total Commonwealth estimates. It first projects annual total demand for teachers based on forecasts of student enrollment and assumptions about student-teacher ratios. Enrollment projections for the state come from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. For the districts, future enrollment is estimated using projections for their cohorts of five-year-olds, the children’s average propensities to attend public school kindergarten, and the students’ average grade progression rates from grades 1 through 12. To set up a range of projections for total teacher demand, student enrollment estimates are divided by three values of each district’s student-teacher ratio—its average, lowest, and highest level from the past six years.

Total demand is then matched to the expected supply of teachers retained from the previous school year, estimated using state and district age-specific attrition rates. The gap between projected total demand and returning supply is the demand for new teachers—that is, the number of teachers the state or district will need to hire that year to staff all classrooms. In the calculations, each year’s deficit is filled by adding the number of new hires necessary to exactly equate total teacher demand with teacher supply. These new hires are assumed to replicate the actual age distribution of teachers hired between 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. All teachers retained from the previous year are then made a year older, and the retention calculations are rerun on the resulting group of new hires and retained teachers. This algorithm is repeated for each school year through 2019-2020, continuously filling the gap between total demand and returning supply with new teachers and updating the age of the retained teachers.

Finally, to ascertain the impact of retirements on hiring needs, teachers age 58 and older—teachers’ national median retirement age— who leave the workforce are assumed to be retirees. The importance of retirements is then evaluated using the share of the workforce that retires each year, the fraction of total attrition that retirees constitute, and the portion of new hiring needs they necessitate. Note that if teachers are delaying retirement because of factors like increasing life expectancy or the current recession, using their historical median retirement age would likely overstate the impact of retirements on teacher hiring needs.

Teacher Hiring Needs

Over the next decade, the state will need to hire about 45,500 new teachers to fully meet teacher demand. Annual hiring needs are estimated to exceed 4,600 in 2010-2011 and decline below 4,300 by 2019-2020. (See Projected Teacher Hiring Needs and Retirements.) State projections assume the student-teacher ratio will remain at 13.4, its average level over the past six years. But the entire range of hiring-need projections is fairly narrow, with total new hires over the next decade ranging from 45,000 to just over 46,000.

For the full text of this article click here.


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