‘Grow Your Own’: New report documents educator shortage strategies in Wisconsin rural schools

By WCER Communications

A large share of Wisconsin’s 400-plus school districts are rural, and nearly half of all students enrolled in public schools statewide attend rural schools. Persistent challenges faced by rural districts in attracting and retaining educators, however, are contributing to an increasingly dire situation for the state’s rural communities.


A new report from WCER Scientist Bradley Carl and project consultant Jenny Seelig suggests that rural school districts are not waiting on state or federal policymakers to solve longstanding staffing challenges for them. Instead, they are actively implementing a mix of national “Grow Your Own” (GYO) programs such as Educators Rising and “homegrown” GYO initiatives as one solution to chronic educator shortages. A distinct set of both successes and challenges have emerged as rural districts attempt to implement, launch, sustain, and scale up GYO initiatives that meet their needs.

GYO initiatives involve school districts working with educator preparation programs and other local partners to identify, recruit, and prepare local candidates to become educators.

Summarizing findings from a year-long research project, the report was funded by a 2022–23 grant from the Tommy Thompson Center for Public Leadership. Read the full report here.

The Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) is housed in the UW–Madison School of Education.

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