New research, the first of its kind, presents a national comparison of teacher vacancies by state.
Schools across the U.S. are battling this issue, some more than others. According to the Florida Education Association, there are as many as 8,000 teacher vacancies in Florida fueled by massive teacher shortages. Kansas finds itself in its worst teacher shortage ever.
But is it as bad as it seems? That’s the question a new working paper from Annenberg Brown University aims to address.
Through a systematic examination of news reports and articles as well as Department of Education data, the authors found there are at least 36,504 vacant teacher positions across the nation, a number that is far less severe than estimates reported in the media. NEA President Rebecca Pringle has said there is a shortage of nearly 300,000 educators and support staff, but those numbers include non-teaching staff as well.
In an effort to provide realistic data, the researchers also constructed an interactive map that shows raw teacher vacancies by state. It is an incomplete snapshot of the most recent data provided by each state, which means some states’ data is older than others since states publicly release the information at varying times.
Nineteen states have released teacher vacancy data for the 2021-22 school year. Thirteen have information for the 2020-21 school year. Nine states have data ranging from 2018-2020, and 10 have data ranging from 2014-2018.
Some states, such as California, Oregon and Washington, among others, have no information to report due to a lack of firm evidence released by the states.
Southern states are seeing the highest amounts of raw teacher vacancies, with Florida coming out on top at 3,911. Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia each have over 3,000 vacancies.
Mississippi saw the highest teacher-to-student vacancy rate in the 2021-22 school year. The state reported having nearly 69 missing teachers per 10,000 students. In comparison, Utah had less than one missing teacher per 10,000 students.
Alabama has the second highest teacher-to-student vacancy ratio, with 41 vacancies per 10,000 students. Georgia, in third place, has 18 per 10,000, and Florida with 14.
States with relatively low counts of raw vacancy, specifically Montana, Kansas, New Mexico, Kansas, and Maine, have relatively high student-to-teacher vacancy ratios with 22 to 38 vacancies per 10,000 students.
The three states with the lowest raw counts of vacancies are Utah (37), Missouri (38) and Nebraska (42).
In total, the southern region makes up the highest portion of vacancies with 22,600. The Midwest accounts for 7,400.
On a regional scale, the South Atlantic has 13,444 reported vacancies, whereas the Pacific has 364.