Starting in the coming school year, the Hawaii Department of Education will be required to collect data on the number of classrooms around the state that do not have a licensed teacher for a quarter or more out of the year.

The data collection is mandated by a new law signed by Gov. David Ige last month. It’s aimed at trying to provide a better picture of where exactly in the state a high — and persistent — concentration of unlicensed teachers are based.

The DOE currently is required to submit only the number of classrooms statewide that employ an emergency hire. An emergency hire is a full-time employee who did not go through a teacher preparation program but can be assigned to one school the entire year.

Queen Liliuokalani Building. Board of Education offices. 16 june 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat
The Hawaii Department of Education building in downtown Honolulu. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2015

An unlicensed teacher could very well be a substitute who is cycling through a classroom on a day to day basis.

The new required data point “will help the Legislature, schools, and Hawaii (teacher) preparation programs know the true need for closing the teacher recruitment and retention gap,” Lynn Hammonds, the executive director of Hawaii Teacher Standards Board, wrote in testimony in support of the bill.

The DOE will be required to collect and submit the new data to HTSB, which is the state teacher licensing entity.

The information will be included in the HTSB’s annual report, likely starting not until the year after next.

“One of the key factors in handling any problem, in this case the shortage of qualified teachers, is to have the data of where, and why we have the problem,” HSTA president Corey Rosenlee wrote in testimony in support.

The DOE did not take a position on the bill.

The public charter schools will individually be required to collect the same data point.

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