Home Academic information Schools still face teacher and staff shortages, data shows

Schools still face teacher and staff shortages, data shows


More than half of public school principals participating in a national survey said they were understaffed when classes began in August, according to federal data released Tuesday that is another sign of persistent school vacancies.

Sixty per cent of those struggling with the problem said they were struggling with vacancies for support staff, and nearly 50 per cent cited unfilled teaching jobs. Principals also reported the loss of positions for teachers and staff.

Teacher shortages were most common for special education and the elementary years, followed by math and English as a second language or bilingual education, according to the results of an August survey by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the Department of Education.

Managers also reported that they lacked transport workers and guards – as well as mental health staff.

Nearly half of schools with vacancies were understaffed to fill mental health positions, which have become particularly important during the pandemic, with rising rates of depression and anxiety among students.

Elena Ashburn, a high school principal in Wake County, North Carolina, has been watching teacher hiring trends closely — starting the school year with two teachers, which she says is unusual in his experience. Two might not seem like much, she said, but they’re in hard-to-fill subjects — science and special education — and vacancies are weighing heavily on students.

“There’s a lot of competition for talent,” she said.

As schools try to catch up with students academically, educational support staff are in demand. More than 40% of principals reporting staffing shortages said they lacked academic speakers and 40% said they lacked tutors.

The principal cleans the bathroom: schools suffer from staff shortages

One of the main hiring problems is the insufficient number of applicants for each job, the survey found.

Brian Fleischman, principal of Overton, Neb., about two hours west of Lincoln, recalls that five years ago he received 50 to 100 applications for every teaching position at the school primary that was opening. This year, its opening for a second-grade teacher attracted five applications.

“We have been blessed,” he said. “We have a rock star.” But he said hiring was becoming “more and more competitive”.

Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, the national association of school superintendents, said while there is little hard data on staffing shortages, he hears school system leaders talk about it all the time.

He said even last year, when staffing shortages reached all-time highs in some areas, he hadn’t seen approaches like Florida’s — offering jobs to veterans without a college degree. Arizona allows students to educate children.

Even the summer school was understaffed.

It’s different than it’s ever been and it definitely impacts this school year,” Domenech said. “It’s not just the teachers, it’s the guards, it’s the cafeteria workers, the bus drivers, everyone.”

He called it disappointing as schools across the country again try to return to pre-pandemic stability. “We were hoping we could return to some semblance of normalcy,” he said, “but we’re not.”

Wanted: Teachers. No training necessary.

NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr said in a statement that 20% of respondents said they were understaffed before the pandemic.

The NCES data is part of an effort to provide more up-to-date information on the effect of the pandemic on K-12 schools. The data released on Tuesday was collected from more than 900 schools. The organization called the data experimental due to factors such as a shorter data collection window.