AERA: What Do We Mean When We Talk About Teacher Shortages?

Debates over perceived teacher shortages often conflate different problems and make it more difficult to find sustainable ways to get every student a good teacher.

That was the consensus at one of the opening symposiums of the American Educational Research Association's annual conference on Thursday. Linda Darling-Hammond, founder of the Learning Policy Institute, a think tank, led researchers debating how educators and policymakers can better understand what influences teacher shortages from state to state.

Different studies have measured teacher staffing issues differently—from reported district vacancies or the number of applicants per position, to overall teacher-student ratios, to the...