High poverty schools, schools with 75% or more minority students, and city schools all anticipate a higher number of teaching vacancies than other schools for the 2022-23 school year, according to a survey of 859 public schools released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. The teaching positions most schools expect to be very difficult to fill include foreign languages, computer science and special education.
Of the schools surveyed, 88% reported teacher and staff burnout, and 82% said mental health became a more pressing staffing concern in the 2021-22 school year. Some 62% said inability to fill vacant positions also became a greater concern last school year.
At the same time, 50% of students began the 2021-22 school year behind grade level in at least one academic subject, compared to 36% at the start of a typical pre-pandemic school year. By the end of the 2021-22 school year, however, the percentage of students behind in at least one academic subject returned to 36% — marking a 14 percentage-point reduction, said NCES Commissioner Peggy Carr.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement the data points to "significant progress" made by students during the 2021-22 school year.
More than 98% of public schools used academic supports to spur pandemic-related learning recovery during the 2021-22 school year, the report showed. The most common strategies were remedial instruction (72%) and high-dosage tutoring (56%).
For this summer, 75% of school respondents said they would continue to offer learning and enrichment, and 70% are offering summer school.
"It is clear that we must remain focused on delivering equitable recovery that results in the academic, social and emotional well-being of our students," said Roberto J. Rodríguez, assistant secretary of planning, evaluation and policy development for the Education Department. "But today's school pulse panel results further underscore that the hard work of parents, educators, school leaders is moving our recovery in the right direction."
These improvements and efforts come against a backdrop of schools anticipating hard-to-fill vacancies across school levels. In elementary schools, general elementary teaching openings were the most common, at 51%. Middle and high schools were most likely to have special education openings, at 54% and 51% respectively.
In January 2022, public schools identified special education as the teaching position with the most vacancies, said Mark Schneider, director of the Institute for Education Statistics, in a news release. “The data released today suggest that filling special education openings will continue to be an area of concern at the start of the 2022-23 school year.”