A national study ranks Indiana among the lowest states for teacher recruitment and retention, with many Indiana teachers worried about the impact of standardized testing.
The report from the not-for-profit Learning Policy Institute says Indiana teachers earn starting salaries lower than the national average but face among the largest class sizes.
Indiana scored a 2.17 out of a possible 5 points of educator data, including work conditions and teacher compensation. Only Arizona, Texas, Colorado and Washington, D.C., received lower scores, The Indianapolis Star reported.
"The fact remains we across the state are struggling to recruit teachers into the profession and make sure spots are filled when the school year begins," said Jeff Butts, superintendent of Wayne Township Schools. "We made teaching not very attractive to go into as a profession."
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz created a 49-member commission last year to develop strategies to attract more teachers into Indiana classrooms. The group's proposals, which included reducing the influence of test scores on the yearly teacher evaluations, died this past legislative session.
Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, the Republican candidate for this year's gubernatorial race, said Indiana should offer high-performing teachers incentives to stay in the classroom.
"First and foremost, we must treat teachers as professionals and as role models, as they were for me, then equip them with the resources they need to succeed," Holcomb said in a written statement. "We also need to ensure teachers are a part of the conversation and have a seat at the table. Educators know what is best for their schools."
Holcomb's Democratic opponent, John Gregg, also has spoken of a recruitment strategy, with an emphasis of giving teachers a voice in policy making, according to his campaign website.
The report recommends that states adopt policies leading to more competitive pay or create other incentives, such as child care support or mortgage guarantees.
"The teacher shortage provides an opportunity for the United States to take a long-term approach to a comprehensive and systematic set of solutions to build a strong teaching profession," the report said. "Although these proposals have a price tag, they could ultimately save far more than they would cost."