Associate Professor Chris Torres serves as a co-principal investigator with Dr. Nathan Burroughs (Public Policy Associates) on a study funded by the Michigan Alliance for Student Opportunity. The project is led by the research and evaluation division of Public Policy Associates (PPA) and is a multi-site collaboration with researchers at PPA and Michigan State University’s Office of K-12 Outreach.
Their project focuses on studying staffing challenges in Michigan’s K-12 Education Workforce. This study takes a comprehensive view on the educator workforce, focusing not just on teachers, but administrators, substitutes, key support staff, and other staff impacting school operations such as bus drivers. There will be a sub-focus on substitute teachers since they are a poorly understood component of the educator workforce and are increasingly in demand as some districts deal with teacher absenteeism, staffing vacancies, and a diminishing supply of teachers.
The study combines survey and interview data garnered from K-12 staff with a detailed examination of administrative data, with a view to understanding the extent of staffing problems, the effect on school functioning, and whether/where/how educators are experiencing and responding to staff shortages.
The first component of the project involves surveying the population of district administrators, principals, and substitute teachers followed by purposeful semi-structured interviews of these three groups to understand and compare the extent and nature of staffing challenges across Michigan. Second, the research team will conduct comparative mixed method case studies of Michigan school districts to develop a comprehensive picture of what these challenges look like within and across different kinds of districts/schools and groups of educators (e.g., teachers, support staff, substitutes, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, coaches, etc.).