Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee


Johanna Duncan-Poitier


P-16 Implementation: Encouraging Entry into Teaching Shortage Areas and Key Professions – “Planting the Seed”



November 15, 2006


Goal 3






Issue for Discussion


Is there a need to create a long-term initiative to help students better understand the life long benefits of graduating and generating an early interest in the licensed professions and teaching? How can we ensure that students, especially in underserved communities, get the necessary information, educational programs and guidance to prepare them to complete their education and enter a shortage area in teaching and/or the professions?


Reason(s) for Consideration


Implementation of the Regents priority in the Statewide Plan for Higher Education to ensure that all students have access to qualified teachers and professionals.

Proposed Handling


At the December meeting of the Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee, the Regents will view a demonstration DVD that highlights how an interactive DVD/internet program model can be developed to provide information and tools to students and teachers to help create interest in hard-to-staff teaching areas and shortage areas in the professions. 


Procedural History   




Background Information


            The Regents, through the Statewide Plan for Higher Education that was approved in July 2005, identified thirteen priorities that the Regents and the higher education community agreed to aggressively pursue over the period of eight years (through 2012). Four of the thirteen Regents Priorities relate to the “Planting the Seed” proposal:



The Statewide Plan discusses a number of issues related to shortages in many licensed professions, including nursing and pharmacy.  In addition to the serious public health concerns related to shortages in health care professions, many other professions, i.e., engineering are facing shortages that will impact not only on services available to New York State residents, but also on the economy of the State. With regard to teaching, there are significant shortages, especially in high poverty schools and school districts in many teaching areas including mathematics, the sciences, foreign languages, bilingual education and students with disabilities.


The Regents policy on P-16 clearly sets forth as a Regents and Department priority the need to ensure that all students have access to highly qualified teachers. The P-16 plan states:


One of the most important factors influencing the academic success of students is the effectiveness of instruction. Student performance increases as teachers gain more experience over their first four years. Yet low income and minority students are more likely to be taught by teachers with less than three years of experience.  In New York State, only 7% of classes in core academic subjects in low-poverty elementary schools are taught by teachers who are not highly qualified, but in high-poverty schools over 18% of classes are taught by teachers who are not highly qualified.  Teacher turnover compounds the problem. Nearly a third of New York’s new teachers leave within their first five years of teaching.  Finally, some students are not learning to read well.  Research shows that good teacher professional development can improve student achievement when it focuses on teachers’ knowledge of the subject matter and how students learn.


            An important goal for this proposal is to help close the performance gap in student achievement by creating incentives to motivate secondary students to stay in school and pursue higher education.  In addition, we know from the research of professors Lankford and Wyckoff, et. al, that 85 percent of New York City teachers take their first teaching assignment within 40 miles of where they went to high school. There is clear evidence that if we encourage more students to enter teaching and the professions, many will elect to stay and work in their own communities.


 In their 2004 State Education Department Leadership Academy Project, the staff team that developed the report, “Strategies to Recruit Public School Students into Teaching,” identified a number of strategies and model programs to enhance recruitment of new teachers.  A current Leadership Academy project is addressing the need to create a model for systemic linkages between licensed professionals and students in middle and high schools to motivate students to complete their education and identify possible career choices.    The “Planting the Seed” project uses many of the same strategies identified by the Leadership Academy Teams to reach out to students to provide information about possible career choices in the licensed professions and teaching.  This project will compliment our other actions to capture the attention of secondary students and provide information to them that is relevant and interesting and that will inspire them to stay in school.


            “Planting the Seed” is a multimedia  approach that will give students a good sense of what different professions are all about, directly from current professionals in the field. It will tell students what academic courses are important for pursuing particular careers and identify colleges where degree programs are offered in those fields and links to financial assistance and grant programs that are available to help them with the costs of attending college.  Teachers and guidance counselors will be given resource material that will help students learn more about the teaching and professional jobs (e.g., names of regional professionals who could visit the school and talk to students directly) and how they can best guide students to prepare for college degree programs in these areas.


The initial step for this project is to secure foundation support that will allow the State Education Department and its partners to develop a long term interactive tool to be used by both students and educators.  The demonstration DVD that will be shown at the December meeting is only a prototype still under development – not the finished product.  We are looking for input from the Regents, not only on the substance of the DVD itself, but also on creative ways to use the material and how we can develop other initiatives to compliment this kind of creative approach to linking two priorities – the need to close the achievement gap for students and the need to ensure that there are enough qualified teachers and professionals to serve our communities in the future. 


            We are also benchmarking other states that have advanced initiatives to motivate students and create interest in careers in the licensed professions and teaching shortage areas as early as middle school. It is now time for New York State to develop such a program, targeted at underserved communities, for the long term benefit of those communities and the State as a whole.




It is recommended that the Department and the Regents continue to develop the construct of this initiative and actively pursue foundation funding for this proposal consistent with the Statewide Plan for Higher Education and the P-16 Plan.  The Department will continue to develop initiatives to use these tools to help address the student achievement gap and the shortages in teaching and other professions around the State.


Timetable for Implementation