Teacher Shortage Trends
Because teacher shortages vary across and within states, it is crucial to have accurate data to analyze the state and local teacher supply and demand to identify appropriate policy solutions. Despite the variation in state and local shortages, there are general trends in subject area, geographic and diversity shortages at the national level. Common shortage areas include:
- Mathematics, science and special education teachers.
- Teachers in high-poverty and high-minority schools.
- Teachers in rural areas.
- Teachers of color.
Shortages are largely caused by declining enrollment in and completion of teacher preparation programs and high teacher attrition. Low pay, poor working conditions and lack of professional respect not only lead to high levels of teacher attrition but also contribute to fewer individuals pursuing the teaching profession. Teacher salaries continue to lag behind those of college graduates in other professions, and teachers are about 30% more likely to work a second job compared to employees in other professions. Mathematics and science teachers face a larger wage gap when choosing the teaching profession over other careers in those fields. High-poverty and high-minority schools often suffer from inadequate resources because of inequitable funding; as a result, these schools tend to have lower salaries and poorer working conditions. Rural schools are often in remote locations, have lower salaries, and require teachers to take on additional roles and responsibilities because they have fewer staff members overall. Teachers of color face additional barriers to entering and remaining in the teaching profession compared to their white counterparts, including being underprepared due to a lack of exposure to college-level coursework in high school, feeling dissatisfied with the lack of diversity in preparation program faculty and being in an environment that does not reflect or respect their culture or experience.
More teachers are considering leaving the profession than were prior to the pandemic, and despite the end of the pandemic, teachers continue to be dissatisfied with hours, salary and working conditions.