What You Need to Know About Teacher Shortages in the Coming Years

2023 Teacher Shortages

As the 2023–2024 school year approaches, schools across the country are grappling with a significant staff shortage crisis. This crisis is particularly concerning for schools with large numbers of minority students, as four in 10 schools with more than 75% minority populations have multiple teaching vacancies. Regional teacher shortages vary by region and subject area, with Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Nevada having some of the lowest teacher-to-student ratios across the nation.

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Nevada has one of the smallest teacher-to-student ratios, with approximately 44 teachers available per 1,000 students enrolled in the state. In the South, two-thirds of Tennessee schools started the 2022-2023 school year with vacancies, with an average of 20 openings per district. Virginia had more than 3,500 full-time teacher vacancies for the 2022–2023 school year, a rate of about 3.9% unfilled positions.

Washington State suffers from a shortage of early childhood educators along with special education professionals, while California is looking to hire more educators in special education, science, math, career technical subjects, and bilingual education. Throughout the U.S., there is a recorded critical shortage of special education teachers.

To address teacher shortages, Oregon and California allow educators with out-of-state licenses to apply for teaching positions in-state. The state invested $1.5 billion towards the Educator Effectiveness Block Grant to help teachers earn certain credentials or certifications in high-demand subjects. The Washington Education Association is working with three school districts to recruit and train special education providers, becoming the first teacher’s union in the U.S. to do so. Four-day school weeks are another solution introduced to local school districts, with over 1,600 schools across 24 states having implemented the shortened school week.

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The reason for the teacher shortage is that in some states, the increased cost of living outpaces the rate of teacher pay. The combination of rising college costs and stagnant teacher salaries has made it extremely difficult for aspiring teachers to pursue this career. Federal data shows that enrollment in traditional teacher preparation programs dropped by nearly a third between 2010 and 2018.

Low morale matters in and of itself, whether or not teachers quit. Annual educator surveys from the RAND Corporation show that only half of all teachers agree with the notion that the “stress and disappointments” of their job are worth it, compared to three-fourths of teachers who said the stress of teaching was worth it just a few years ago.

There is no reliable national data for tracking teacher vacancies, and some states fail to track whether educators are qualified to teach the classes they’re teaching. Researchers at the National Council on Teacher Quality found that only 16 states published teacher demand data, leaving researchers with a patchwork of data sources, making it difficult to fully understand the national landscape of teacher shortages.

[Post credit to usatoday.com]

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