Talent Acquisition in a Teacher Economy Squeezed by Shortages and School Choice

By Alison Coker, Executive Director, Human Resources, Guilford County Schools, North Carolina; Dale Fisher, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Deerfield Public Schools District 109, Illinois; Jo Ann Hanrahan, Director, Research & Data Analysis, Frontline Education

Case Study //


Guilford County Schools, N.C.

No. of elementary teachers: 2,381
No. of secondary teachers: 1,153
Other classroom teachers: 1,259
Total no. of teachers: 4,793
No. of principals: 126
No. of assistant principals: 126

guilford county schools
Guilford County Schools (GCS) is the third-largest district in North Carolina, serving nearly 72,000 students across 127 schools in urban, suburban and rural areas. The district is divided into four regions, each with its own regional superintendent, office and support staff to provide personal attention to schools. It ranks ninth in the country for the number of teachers with national board certifications and had its highest ever four-year graduation rate (89.4 percent) in 2016.

“With all of that data, we can make informed decisions about where we recruit, about support systems that we need to put in place and, in general, about how we can get better at getting better.”
Alison Coker, Executive Director, Human resources Guilford County Schools

Tracking human capital data has allowed the district to increase equity in the applicant pool from building to building. Data on applicant background and experience provides deeper insights into WHO the district is hiring. Looking at the applicant data story, GCS recognized trends related specifically to their secondary math applicants and new hire contracts. The data was then used as a starting point during their work with the Urban Schools Human Capital Academy (USHCA) to inform and improve practice. USHCA helps districts implement a range of functions targeted at improving teacher and principal quality and supporting overall education reform.

Insights of the candidate journey are illuminated through monitoring and analyzing applicant data. For example, GCS learned that communications missteps cost the district quality candidates. Now, key communication efforts are targeted to support applicants with each step in the process. With greater reach and transparency, the workflow is tightened, targeted and transparent — ensuring a positive, efficient process.

Teacher Shortage Snapshot

Deerfield Public Schools District 109, Deerfield, Ill.

K–8 district
2,973 students
6 schools
6 principals
248 FTE teachers
500 total employees

Deerfield Public Schools District 109, Deerfield, Ill.
From Guilford in the South to Deerfield in the Midwest, data-driven recruiting and hiring is similar, yet unique. Deerfield Public Schools District 109 is a K–8 district about 25 miles north of Chicago. Deerfield serves approximately 3,000 students and is the highest achieving school district in the state of Illinois. Given its location and reputation, Deerfield attracts a large pool of candidates for open positions. Over the past five years, the district has hired between 15–20 teachers annually in response to the collective retirement of a veteran staff. The human resources department reflects the strategic direction of the district as well as the systemic focus on evidence-based practices. The human resources team has a seat on the district’s strategic planning committee — a testament to the importance of a people-focused culture in the district.
Boy looking at iPad

“We do everything possible to reduce and eliminate institutional reliance on gut instinct in the hiring process. We invest heavily in tools that yield data-driven results that identify the potential for excellence each new hire holds.”
Dr. Michael Lubelfeld, Superintendent, Deerfield Public Schools District 109

1. Sutcher, L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Carver-Thomas, D. (2016). A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.

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Human capital data continuously informs the district’s talent acquisition process.

It seems like so much of this conversation over the last several years has focused on evaluation data. It's interesting to think about how much other data are available to helpfully inform decision-making. How often are these data overlooked?

Kudos to Alison and Dale for using a scientific approach to hiring and ensuring the best teachers possible are working with their students to achieve their academic goals. Greg Dietz – Maine TWP HS D207

data is kept in different systems that don’t talk to each other.

It's amazing that data silos continue to be such a persistent challenge. This is one area where interoperability investment is totally worth it –both for the district and for improvement in the candidate-to-teacher experience.