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Here’s how to prevent teacher shortages from putting a dampen on course choices for students

  • Joanna
  • March 18, 2021

James Bolling won’t be easy to replace.

When the longtime teacher from Oakdale, California, retired from Riverdale High School in December, he took with him all of the knowledge and skills he applied to teaching life skills, sex education, technology, special education, science, math, and English — in all four grade levels.

It will be years before federal data offers a clear picture of the extent of teacher retirements this year, but an anecdotal picture is shaping up. For instance, educator retirements in New York spiked this summer. In August alone, twice as many educators decided to end their careers than in that same month the year before.

The resulting teacher shortage is putting a strain on the diversity of courses that schools and districts can offer their students. With core subjects obviously taking priority, a lot of the courses that schools rely upon to keep students interested and engaged are being lost. And some district leaders say they’re even having trouble ensuring that highly qualified teachers are in place to teach the classes they absolutely must teach.

An online course catalog can go a long way toward helping alleviate this problem, but there are some important factors to consider:

Of course, all classes must be aligned to district and state standards.
Even if they are asynchronous, courses that are actually teacher-led are best.
Teachers who lead online classes should be experienced in online learning best practices.
Assessments should not just be multiple choice; diversified assignments are key to keeping students engaged.
The catalog should be sufficiently diverse to give students many options for learning.

With luck and determination, our nation will overcome the current teacher shortage. In the meantime, school leaders everywhere are discovering the power of flexibility offered by adding an online course catalog.

Are students and parents starting to ask for more online opportunities? Graduation Alliance works with hundreds of districts across the nation to provide online core and elective classes. Click here for more information.