Teacher Shortage: What We Can Learn from Arkansas


By aligning the state measures of teacher competency with licensure exams, providing alternative pathways as well as microcredentials, and providing resources like tutoring to teachers who are required to pass these exams, the state of Arkansas has reduced both bureaucratic and temporal barriers to entry of the profession; allowing highly qualified individuals to fill what might otherwise remain an empty classroom.


The New Teacher Project is a nonprofit whose focus is similar to ours at JPEF, developing insight through partnerships, investigative research, and advocating for students. Three years ago, they published Missing Out: Arkansas's Teacher Shortage and How to Fix It, in which they described the teacher shortage problem the state was facing, the programs they were using to fix the issues and how aware teachers and potential teachers were of those programs. 

Last week, they released a follow up report that celebrated the commitment that Arkansas made to the existing programs and the development of additional programs to address the shortages. They paid special attention to a state policy developed last year called the Literacy, Empowerment, Accountability, Readiness, Networking and School Safety Act of 2023.

Take Aways

Primarily, the paper reviewed the impact of their recommendations and then proposed a second set of recommendations for the future. Focusing on individuals who were already in schools, like paraprofessionals, who might not have had pathways to full teacher licensure, they proposed a licensure pathway for those paras to gain a bachelor's degree while working full time. Additionally Arkansas has launched Teacher Residency Models, like the Jacksonville Teacher Residency (A program once supported by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund) as well as Arkansas Teacher Registered Apprenticeship. TNTPs also recommended increasing teacher salaries. Now Arkansas can claim that they offer the highest starting teacher salary in the country, adjusting for cost of living. 

By developing Teach Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Education created a central pathway for potential teachers of all backgrounds and careers to be directed down the appropriate pathway to learn the steps required to become teachers. We here at JPEF have emphasized the importance of a diverse teacher workforce through our 1000 by 25 initiative at our very own Teach Duval and have advocated for improved teacher compensation



Ultimately, the recommendations that TNTP offers Arkansas are to:

  • expand teaching pathways
  • keep websites up to date on changes
  • increase dedicated career coaches to develop potential teachers
  • leverage statewide K12 data systems in partnership with higher education to see how aspiring teachers access these resources to draw a clear line between college and K12 classrooms

For more details be sure to check out the full study here.




of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.