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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.

Key Findings 

School Start Time

  • Among public K-12 schools, the average start time was 8:13 a.m., with elementary schools having a later average start time by a few minutes (8:16 a.m.) than middle (8:11 a.m.), combined/other (8:08 a.m.), and secondary/high (8:07 a.m.) schools.
  • A higher percentage of public secondary/high schools (9 percent) had start times before 7:30 a.m. compared to middle (6 percent), combined/other (3 percent), and elementary (3 percent) schools.

Online Courses

  • Nationwide, about 29 percent of public K-12 schools and 17 percent of private K-12 schools reported that they normally offered any courses entirely online prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Among traditional public schools that offered these online courses, 41 percent reported that few (1-10 percent of students) enrolled in the courses, while 20 percent reported that most (76 percent or more of students) enrolled in them. Among public charter schools, 26 percent reported that few students enrolled in them, and 36 percent reported that most students enrolled in them.
  • Among private schools that offered any courses entirely online, 51 percent of Catholic schools reported that few students enrolled in the courses and 10 percent reported that most students enrolled in them.

Academic Assistance

  • Overall, 49 percent of public K-12 schools and 35 percent of private K-12 schools offered instruction beyond the normal school day for students who need academic assistance. Additionally, 32 percent of public schools and 24 percent of private schools offered instruction beyond the normal school day for students who seek academic advancement or enrichment.
  • Among public schools, a higher percentage of charter schools offered instruction beyond the normal school day for students who needed assistance (56 percent) or who sought academic advancement or enrichment (44 percent), compared to traditional public schools (48 percent and 31 percent, respectively).

Principal Characteristics

  • During the 2020-21 school year
    • 77 percent of public K-12 school principals were non-Hispanic White, 10 percent were non-Hispanic Black or African American, 9 percent were Hispanic, and 3 percent were another race/ethnicity.
    • 83 percent of private K-12 school principals were non-Hispanic White, 6 percent were non-Hispanic Black or African American, 6 percent were Hispanic, and 5 percent were another race/ethnicity.

Teacher Characteristics

  • During the 2020-21 school year
    • 80 percent of public K-12 school teachers were non-Hispanic White, 9 percent were Hispanic, 6 percent were non-Hispanic Black or African American, 2 percent were non-Hispanic Asian, and 2 percent indicated they were non-Hispanic and of two or more races.
    • o About 83 percent of private K-12 school teachers were non-Hispanic White, 8 percent were Hispanic, 4 percent were non-Hispanic Black or African American, 2 percent were non-Hispanic Asian, and 2 percent indicated they were non-Hispanic and of two or more races.

Work Schedule

  • On average, regular full-time teachers in public K-12 schools spent 52 hours per week on all school-related activities, including 25 hours that they were paid to deliver instruction to students. Public school teachers were required by their contracts to work an average of 38 hours per week
  • Regular full-time private K-12 school teachers spent an average of 52 hours per week on all school-related activities, including 24 hours that they were paid to deliver instruction to students. Private school teachers were required by their contracts to work an average of 39 hours per week.
  • Public K-12 school principals spent an average of 58 hours per week on all school-related activities. Public school principals spent about 30 percent of their time on internal administrative tasks, 29 percent on curriculum and teaching-related tasks, 24 percent on student interactions, and 15 percent on parent interactions, on average.
  • Private K-12 school principals spent an average of 54 hours per week on all school-related activities. Private school principals spent about 33 percent of their time on internal administrative tasks, 28 percent on curriculum and teaching-related tasks, 20 percent on student interactions, and 16 percent on parent interactions, on average.

Compensation

  • In the 2020-21 school year, regular full-time teachers in public K-12 schools had a higher average base salary ($61,600) than regular full-time teachers in private schools ($46,400).
  • Public K-12 school principals reported an average annual salary of $105,900. Public school principals in secondary/high schools reported higher average salaries ($111,100) than principals in middle schools, elementary schools, and combined/other schools ($108,700, $103,900, and $98,800, respectively). Private K-12 school principals reported an average annual salary of $78,600. Private school principals in secondary/high schools reported higher average salaries ($111,500), than principals in combined/other schools and elementary/middle schools ($76,700, and $65,400, respectively)
  • About 17 percent each of public and private K-12 school teachers had jobs outside their school system during the school year. A higher percentage of public school than private school teachers had earnings from extracurricular or additional activities in the same school system (40 percent compared with 26 percent).

Staffing Vacancies

  • 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 language, 40 percent for special education, 37 percent for physical sciences, 32 percent each for English as a second language or bilingual education and for mathematics, and 31 percent each for biology or life sciences, for computer science, and for career or technical education.
  • Among private K-12 schools that had teaching vacancies in a specific field, 44 percent found it very difficult or were not able to fill the vacancies for special education, 35 percent for computer science, 32 percent for mathematics and for foreign languages, and 31 percent for physical science and for biology or life sciences.

To learn more about NTPS and download the reports, visit https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ntps/.

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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 TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, 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.

CONTACT:
Josh Delarosa, National Center for Education Statistics, Aris.nces@ed.gov
James Elias, Hager Sharp, jelias@hagersharp.com