Education Workforce Case Study

RE: Education Workforce Case Study

You can help us better understand Michigan school district staffing challenges in the wake of the pandemic by participating as one of our case-study sites! As part of this study, we are recruiting districts across Michigan with varying characteristics, and we are hoping your district will consider becoming one of our research partners. Our goal is to learn from how you are experiencing and responding to educator staffing challenges and how you might be better supported.

Study Background

Public Policy Associates (PPA), in collaboration with researchers from The University of Michigan School of Education and Michigan State University’s Office of K-12 Outreach, has partnered with the Michigan Alliance for Student Opportunity (formerly the Middle Cities Education Association) to study educator staffing challenges in K-12 schools across Michigan.

This study is the first of its kind in Michigan, as it touches on the entire K-12 labor market—administrators, teachers, substitutes, and other support staff. This project is being supported by the state of Michigan and the major state education associations. Your voice is critical in helping the state better understand how to strengthen school district staffing in Michigan.

Your Participation is Confidential
If you choose to participate as one of our case-study sites, please know that we would de-identify data and keep your participation and the participation of any district schools and employees confidential. No individuals will be identified by name or specific position in presentations or publications resulting from the study, and your district will be assigned a pseudonym.

Benefits to You
As one of our research partners, we aim to work collaboratively with your district and provide you with important synthesized results of the case study for you to use in district planning. We believe these results will provide you with information related to staffing in your district and may shed light on strategies for stabilizing the educator workforce in the short term, and to inform long-term structural local staffing reforms that will support students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. Additionally, we
welcome and encourage your input on the questions we ask and to whom we ask the questions.

What Participation Would Involve

1. Interviews/Focus Groups
As part of the case study, we are interested in conducting interviews to gain a broad range of perspectives, including those of:

● District-level administrators
● School-level administrators (including principals)
● Teachers
● Other instructional staff, possibly including, paraprofessionals or substitute teachers
● Non-instructional staff, possibly including, but not limited to:
o Social workers
o Bus drivers
o Administrative assistants
o Cafeteria workers
o Custodians/engineers

In total, we are hoping to interview approximately 12 to 24 staff members in your district and/or hold 1 to 2 focus groups as necessary. We know that time spent on teaching and learning is valuable, and as a sign of our appreciation, we would be able to provide gift cards/incentives for staff members who participate in the interviews/focus groups. We are also happy to provide lunch/snacks when we come to your district to conduct any in-person interviews.

2. Analysis of District Personnel Data
As part of this project, we are also interested in analyzing your district personnel data related to responses to absenteeism and tracking of short-term and long-term teacher shortages. We would work with your district to minimize the burden on your HR staff and would take all necessary steps to protect individual confidentiality.

How Results Will Be Used
The results of this work will be used in a report to the state about education staffing, as well as other research purposes. We would greatly appreciate your participation in this study as we think this will help the State, the Michigan Department of Education, as well as ISDs and school districts learn more about educator staffing challenges and how to support staffing needs. The results of this study can also inform similar education staffing challenges that are going on across the country.

Next Steps
You may respond to the original email or send an email to to indicate whether or not you are interested, and the research team will follow up. Please also feel free to reach out if you have any questions or require any additional informational.

We look forward to working with you!