A Mississippi task for is getting closer to making recommendations aimed addressing the state's teacher shortage. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that 48 districts are considered critical shortage areas...
The task force met at the capitol yesterday to look for changes in state law that could led to more and better teacher staying on the on the job in Mississippi.
A big focus, says Senate Education chairman Gray Tollison of Oxford, is focusing on recruiting the best high school students into teaching.
"Have universities actively recruiting young people. And high school counslors into what would be a selective teaching program. And I think it would be an important component of what would be a long term solution for our teaching shortage," Tollison said.
The state currently offers some scholarships for top performing students or students who agree to teach in critical need areas after graduating.
Tollison says those programs might need to be tweaked to be more effective.
The state is also currently testing a merit pay system, which could tempt more young people to consider teaching says Mississippi State University research Julie Jordan.
"People would prefer entering this profession if the compensation system were more like the private sector. So that is where the research suggests that there may be a way of getting different people into the teaching profession," Jordan said.
48 out of roughly 150 Mississippi school districts are consider critical teacher shortage areas.
Daphne Buckley with the Department of Education says attracting bright students is not difficult.
"I think starting early is going to be a key. We are going to have to start looking at high school students and talking to them about the profgession and the rewards of the profession. And what they need to do and how they need to grow in order to become a highly effective teacher," Buckley said.
But a bigger challenge is getting them to stay on the job after graduation and building a career in difficult school districts.
The task force is expected to meet again before the end of the legislative session.