Supply and Demand

Schools need to put a teacher in every classroom, but that's a lot harder in some cases than others. While there are generally plenty of new elementary teachers available for hire, schools struggle to find teachers licensed in other areas. Rural schools have long had a particularly tough time finding and keeping teachers, as do schools serving high numbers of children living in poverty.

Teacher Shortages and Surpluses Databurst

Feb 2018

Click below to view the most comprehensive analysis of each states' work on a critical issue: teacher shortages. This resource includes an overview of promising practices currently being implemented, a snapshot of all 50 states' and the District of Columbia's efforts in addressing teacher supply and demand challenges, and noteworthy state policies by region across the country, in addition to a range of recommendations for states to create short- and long-term solutions to this problem.

Is there a "national teacher shortage"? 

Not really. Over the last four years, even though the student population has not increased, the number of teachers has actually increased by over 400,000 (a 10 percent growth), suggesting that most districts are not have a problem finding teachers. However, long standing shortages do exist in many places, each requiring a set of solutions that are local in nature.

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According to federal data from the last 30 years, prep programs have annually graduated between 175,000 and 300,000 teachers, yet consistently school districts have only hired somewhere between 60,000 and 140,000.

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The biggest myth about the teaching profession is that 50% of all new teachers leave within their first five years of teaching. 

That figure is closer to 17% within the first four years (the 5th year results haven't been published yet), although this rate varies across districts.

More than a quarter of the teachers who leave each year (about 8% of the total workforce) return to the classroom at some point. Why do teachers leave? Many are retiring (38%). Many are taking non-teaching jobs in a school or district (29%). The rest leave for a variety of other reasons, including to take care of family members or to take jobs outside of education.

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How do we begin to solve chronic shortages?

Every state has room for improvement when it comes to collecting, reporting, and using teacher supply and demand data. Currently, only 29 states collect data on the number of new teachers their teacher prep programs are graduating, with only eight of these states connecting these data to the number and type of new teachers their districts need to hire. No state has established clear parameters that govern the number of teachers trained in each major certification area.

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Pay matters.

Higher pay can attract teachers to work in specific fields or locations. It's a solution which most districts and states have been reluctant to embrace. 

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