Public and Private Schools Reported Difficulty Filling Teaching Vacancies During the First Full Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic
December 13, 2022
Regular full-time public and private school teachers work more hours, on average, than required by contracts
WASHINGTON (December 13, 2022)—Many public and private schools that had teaching vacancies in the 2020-21 school year, the first full school year of the COVID-19 pandemic, found it very difficult to fill vacancies or were unable to fill vacancies, according to Characteristics of 2020-21 Public and Private K-12 Schools in the United States: Results From the National Teacher and Principal Survey, one of three reports from the 2020-21 National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
“Nationwide, both public and private schools faced a number of challenges, such as filling teaching vacancies, during the 2020-21 school year,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “Schools had difficulty finding teachers for a variety of disciplines and subjects, including special education, computer science, and mathematics and foreign languages. And we know from the School Pulse Panel data from the 2021-22 school year that schools continue to face these challenges.”
Among public K-12 schools that had teaching vacancies in a specific field, 42 percent found it very difficult or were not able to fill the vacancies for foreign languages, 40 percent for special education, and 37 percent for physical sciences. Compared to the 2015-16 school year, larger percentages of public schools with vacancies had difficulty filling positions for general elementary, special education, English or language arts, social studies, computer science, foreign language, and music or arts teachers. Private schools found it very difficult or were not able to fill the vacancies for special education (44 percent), computer science (35 percent), and for both mathematics and foreign languages (32 percent).
The second report, Characteristics of 2020-21 Public and Private K-12 School Teachers in the United States: Results From the National Teacher and Principal Survey, shows that, on average, regular full-time teachers in public and private K-12 schools spent 52 hours per week on all school-related activities. Public school teachers were required by their contracts to work an average of 38 hours per week, while private school teachers were required to work 39 hours per week.
“Both public and private school teachers spent more weekly hours working, on average, than they were required,” said NCES Associate Commissioner Chris Chapman. “Notably, about 17 percent each of public and private K-12 school teachers had jobs outside their school system during the school year, even though these teachers already tended to be working more hours than they were required to.”
Public school principals spent an average of 58 hours per week on all school-related activities, while private school principals spent 54 hours per week on average, according to the third report, Characteristics of 2020-21 Public and Private K-12 School Principals in the United States: Results From the National Teacher and Principal Survey.
These data are drawn from the 2020-21 National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), a nationally representative survey of public and private K-12 schools, principals, and teachers. Data were collected in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. NTPS collects data on topics such as teacher and principal training, classes taught, school demographics of the teacher and principal labor force, working conditions, and school staffing. Data were collected from October 2020 through August 2021.
The 2020-21 NTPS used a school-based sample of public and private schools. The selected samples included about 9,900 public schools and their principals, 68,300 public school teachers, 3,000 private schools and their principals, and 8,000 private school teachers.
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To learn more about NTPS and download the reports, visit https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ntps/.
The National Center for Education Statistics, a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, is the statistical center of the U.S. Department of Education and the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally. Follow NCES on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES News Flash to receive email notifications when new data is released.
The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the independent and nonpartisan statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public.