Exploring the Bilingual Teacher Shortage: A Qualitative Case Study of One Texas School District

4:00 - 5:00pm CST


Presented at: NABE 2017

The purpose of this study (awarded the 2015 NABE Outstanding Dissertation Award, 2nd Place) was to examine how stakeholders in one Texas school district perceive, experience, and respond to the bilingual teacher shortage.

The study focused on a mid-sized suburban school district that utilized a dual language approach to educating Spanish bilingual learners. Face-to-face and web-based interviews with members of the human resources department, bilingual campus principals, and bilingual teachers provided data for the study. The case study provides a detailed, multi-faceted account of the tangible impact that the bilingual teacher shortage has on schools, teachers, and students.

Five common themes emerged from the study’s findings: (1) Reality of the shortage; (2) Recruiting challenges; (3) Retention challenges; (4) Certification challenges; (5) Uniqueness of district.Conclusions from these findings add to the current research by providing specific examples of how the bilingual teacher shortage impacts practitioners in the field and inhibits a district’s ability to appropriately serve the needs of its bilingual students. Study findings affirm that the bilingual teacher shortage problem significantly impacts school districts, and that misalignment between educational policy, educator preparation program curriculum, and district bilingual programming serves to exacerbate the shortage problem by increasing district recruiting and retention challenges.

Implications of the study include the recommendation that leaders in school districts and educator preparation programs come together with policy makers to devise systems and processes to ensure that sufficient numbers of highly skilled bilingual teachers become available to serve the ever expanding Spanish bilingual student population.