Wanted, A National Teacher Supply Policy for Education:The Right Way to Meet The "Highly Qualified Teacher" Challenge


  • Linda Darling-Hammond Stanford University
  • Gary Sykes Michigan State University




Teacher Supply and Demand, Teacher Qualifications, Program Development


Teacher quality is now the focus of unprecedented policy analysis. To achieve its goals, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires a “highly qualified teacher” in all classrooms. The concern with teacher quality has been driven by a growing recognition, fueled by accumulating research evidence, of how critical teachers are to student learning. To acquire and retain high-quality teachers in our Nation’s classrooms will require substantial policy change at many levels. There exists longstanding precedent and strong justification for Washington to create a major education manpower program. Qualified teachers are a critical national resource that requires federal investment and cross-state coordination as well as other state and local action. NCLB provides a standard for equitable access to teacher quality that is both reasonable and feasible. Achieving this goal will require a new vision of the teacher labor market and the framing of a national teacher supply policy. States and local districts have vital roles to play in ensuring a supply of highly qualified teachers; however, they must be supported by appropriate national programs. These programs should be modeled on U.S. medical manpower efforts, which have long supplied doctors to high- need communities and eased shortages in specific health fields. We argue that teacher supply policy should attract well-prepared teachers to districts that sorely need them while relieving shortages in fields like special education, math and the physical sciences. We study the mal-distribution of teachers and examine its causes. We describe examples of both states and local school districts that have fashioned successful strategies for strengthening their teaching forces. Unfortunately, highly successful state and local program to meet the demand for qualified teachers are the exception rather than the rule. They stand out amid widespread use of under-prepared teachers and untrained aides, mainly for disadvantaged children in schools that suffer from poor working conditions, inadequate pay and high teacher turnover. The federal government has a critical role to play in enhancing the supply of qualified teachers targeted to high-need fields and locations, improving retention of qualified teachers, especially in hard-to-staff schools, and in creating a national labor market by removing interstate barriers to mobility.


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Author Biographies

Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University

Linda Darling-Hammond is Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University School of Education. She also served as executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future which produced the 1996 widely cited blueprint for education reform: What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future. Darling-Hammond's research, teaching, and policy work focus on teaching and teacher education, school restructuring, and educational equity. She has been active in the development of standards for teaching, having served as a two- term member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and as chair of the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) committee that drafted model standards for licensing beginning teachers. She is author of The Right To Learn, A License to Teach, and Professional Development Schools: Schools for Developing a Profession, along with six other books and more than 200 book chapters, journal articles, and monographs on education. Dr. Darling-Hammond works on issues of education policy and practice, including school reform, authentic assessment, professional development schools and educational research. She serves as the faculty sponsor for Stanford's Teacher Education Program (STEP). As a leader in the charge for better teacher education and teacher preparedness, Dr. Darling- Hammond is instrumental in redesigning STEP to better prepare teachers to teach diverse learners in the context of challenging new subject matter standards. She also is helping to create a network of Bay Area schools of education and professional development schools (PDS) interested in working together on school reform, and learning communities for Bay Area practitioners through an ongoing series of workshops, institutes, peer coaching networks and study groups.

Gary Sykes, Michigan State University

Gary Sikes is a professor in the Departments of Educational Administration and Teacher Education, College of Education, Michigan State University. Recent work includes two strands. One is on the effects of school choice policies on educational systems; his most recent book, co-edited with David Plank (Choosing Choice: School Choice in International Perspective. Teachers College Press, 2003) explores this theme. The other strand of work examines the effects of policies directed at teaching and teachers. That theme is represented in a book co-edited with Linda Darling Hammond, Teaching as the Learning Profession (Jossey Bass, 1999).




How to Cite

Darling-Hammond, L., & Sykes, G. (2003). Wanted, A National Teacher Supply Policy for Education:The Right Way to Meet The "Highly Qualified Teacher" Challenge. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 11, 33. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v11n33.2003




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