New Jersey has a teacher shortage — sort of.

During an Assembly Education Committee hearing last week, Diana Pasculli, deputy assistant commissioner of performance at the New Jersey Department of Education, told members of the panel there’s “some misalignments between the supply and demand of our workforce.”

She said while there is an overflow of elementary school teacher candidates every year, there are teacher shortages for certain subjects, including science, math, bilingual education, English as a second language and career and technical education.

“Those are areas of concern for us, where we don’t see enough educators going through the whole pipeline and being ready to fill those roles," she said.

At the same time she stressed there isn't a broad-strokes shortage — "we see real struggle and concern in certain subjects.”

And there are struggles and shortages in certain regions of the state as well, Pasculli said.

She told members of the panel close to 7,000 individuals receive teacher certifications each year, but only about 4,000 new teachers are hired every year — because of the teacher supply-and-demand mismatch.

She said the Department of Education is planning an in-depth analysis this summer of all certification standards for teachers in high-demand subject areas where there are shortages.

Pasculli said the study will look at certification requirements — “the processes that go along with applying for that certification, which can sometimes be rather complicated, and the experiences of teacher candidates as they move through and navigate that process.”

She said the Department of Education is providing technical assistance to educator preparation programs in New Jersey to help them with recruitment efforts.

She told members of the panel the Department of Education has also developed an initiative to address the racial composition of the current teacher workforce as well.

She said during the 2017-2018 school year “the composition of the teacher workforce was mostly white, as teachers of color represented 16% of the teacher workforce.”

However, “56% of the 1.4 million New Jersey students we serve are students of color.”

She said while New Jersey’s teacher workforce is gradually becoming more diverse, the Department has set a goal “that by 2025 all New Jersey students will have access to a high-quality novice teacher pool that reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of New Jersey’s public school students.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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