Leading up to the 2019–20 school year, Colorado schools sought to fill 7,242 teaching positions representing 13.25% of all teaching positions in the state (Colorado Department of Education, 2020). Of those positions, 1,132 remained unfilled or were filled through a shortage mechanism (e.g., long-term substitutes, retired educators, alternative / emergency authorizations). The ability to retain teachers reduces disruptions and the expense related to recruitment, and most importantly, limits the negative impact turnover has on student achievement.

R12CC staff are supporting the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and its stakeholders to develop Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps to explore the influences of place on educator shortages in the state.

Early in the year, R12CC held multiple project team meetings with CDE partners to draft and finalize a set of key questions and data sources that drove the development of the GIS maps. Key questions included, “How are retention and attrition rates for educators distributed across Colorado?” and “How are initiatives to attract, prepare, and retain educators distributed across the state?”

Once the initial version of the maps was complete, education stakeholders were guided through an interactive analysis of the GIS maps and the identification of data findings, interpretations, and recommendations to address Colorado’s educator shortage problem. Several priority areas of focus, potential strategies (evidence and place-based) to address educator shortages, and recommendations for possible next steps emerged from work with the stakeholders. Recommendations are being incorporated into plans for Year 2, which will focus on enhancing the maps to better understand the shortage issue as well as bright spots in Colorado’s educator pipeline.