K-State research breaks down teacher shortage by state

Kansas reports 1,200 open positions
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Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 7:55 AM CDT
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Research from Kansas State University has broken down the teacher shortage by state and found that for the previous school year around 1,200 positions were open in the Sunflower State.

As millions of students head back to class for the new school year, Kansas State University says a new report from its College of Education found the scope of the teacher shortage across the country - which may provide the first data set on the issue by state.

K-State indicated that “Is There A National Teacher Shortage? A Systematic Examination of Reports of Teacher Shortages in the United States” was published as a working paper by Brown University’s Anneberg Institute by Tuan Nguyen, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, and Chanh Bao Lam, a data analyst.

Both K-State researchers worked alongside the University of Illinois - Champaign’s Paul Bruno as their third author.

The university noted that the three augmented existing data from federal and state agencies with news reports and publicly available information to analyze each state’s teacher vacancies. They then grouped the data into three categories to compare.

The report also includes a look at the number of underqualified individuals who are now serving as teachers to fill these vacancies.

Nguyen said classifying the teacher shortage was difficult because reporting varies from state to state and agency to agency.

“Overall, there are at least 36,500 vacant positions along with 163,000 underqualified individuals filling teaching positions across the United States,” Nguyen said. “These vacancies represent 1.67% of teaching positions nationwide, with about 5.16% of positions held by underqualified school district employees.”

K-State indicated that the 11 states in Group 1 have the clearest vacancies. Florida leads the nation with about 4,000 unfilled teaching positions for the 2021-22 school year, followed by Illinois with 1,703 and Arizona with 1,699. The other states in this group include Utah, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, Colorado, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, the university said the 26 states - plus Washington, D.C. - in the second group have less clear vacancy information. It said Georgia ranks the highest in this category with 3,112 open positions for the 2019-20 school year - the last year with available data - followed by Mississippi and Alabama - each with more than 3,000 vacancies in the 2020-21 school year.

K-State noted that Wisconsin is the only state in this category with vacancies in the 2,000s. It said North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Kansas, New Mexico, West Virginia and Maryland reported more than 1,000 vacancies. Meanwhile, Indiana reported 980 vacancies and Rhode Island reported 93.

The university said the 13 remaining states - Alaska, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming - had no vacancy information. However, the states did have a substantial number of underqualified teachers - including up to 24,000 positions in California.

“We need more accurate and timely data to make targeted policy decisions addressing these substantial teacher staffing challenges,” Nguyen said. “Toward this end, our report contains several recommendations for district and state policymakers to consider when addressing local teacher shortages.”

To see the raw counts reported by each state, click HERE.