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Forty-Five Percent of Public Schools Operating Without a Full Teaching Staff in October, New NCES Data Show
December 6, 2022

More than 80 percent of K-12 schools experienced supply-chain issues; food services were most commonly identified as impacted by supply-chain disruptions

WASHINGTON (December 6, 2022)—As of October 2022, 18 percent of public schools had one teaching vacancy and 27 percent had multiple teaching vacancies, according to data released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the statistical center within the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The average public school had two vacant teaching positions, and 4 percent of all public school teaching positions across the country were vacant.

“Public schools continue to have difficulty filling critical positions, with higher percentages of high-poverty schools and schools with high-minority student populations experiencing teaching vacancies than other schools,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “But these data show that teacher vacancies are not the only challenge facing schools this academic year. The majority of schools have experienced problems acquiring necessities like food, electronics, and furniture because of supply-chain issues during this school year so far. These data provide insight into the challenges emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic that schools continue to experience.”

More than half of public schools in high-poverty neighborhoods (57 percent) had at least one teaching vacancy, compared to 41 percent of public schools in low-poverty neighborhoods. Sixty percent of public schools with a high-minority student body (greater than 75 percent minority) had at least one teaching vacancy, compared to 32 percent of schools with a low-minority student body (25 percent or less minority).

In addition to teaching vacancies, 83 percent of public schools reported having experienced procurement challenges that appeared to be the result of supply-chain disruptions during the 2022-23 school year. The most prevalent challenges were in procurement of food services (55 percent), laptops and other electronic devices (48 percent), and furniture (30 percent).

The three most commonly reported ways schools that have responded to supply-chain issues were reducing options available to staff and students (e.g., fewer menu items; 48 percent), purchasing products that were alternatives to those originally intended (47 percent), and identifying alternate vendors for the same products (40 percent).

The findings released today are from the School Pulse Panel, which is part of NCES's innovative approach to delivering timely information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on public K-12 schools in the U.S. on topics such as staffing, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) School Meal programs, school supply chains, learning mode offerings, and quarantine prevalence, as reported by school staff in U.S. public schools.

This is the tenth experimental data product from the School Pulse Panel. The findings released today are from the latest round of the experimental monthly School Pulse Panel (SPP), which collected data from 990 participating schools between October 11 and October 25, 2022.

Experimental data products are innovative statistical products created using new data sources or methodologies. Experimental data may not meet all NCES quality standards but are of sufficient benefit to data users in the absence of other relevant products to justify release. NCES clearly identifies experimental data products upon their release.

The data released today can be found on the School Pulse Panel dashboard at https://ies.ed.gov/schoolsurvey/.

Key Findings 

Staffing

  • As of October 2022, 4 percent of all public school teaching positions were vacant. The average public school had two vacant teaching positions.
    • Eighteen percent of public schools had one teaching vacancy and 27 percent had multiple teaching vacancies.
    • The top three teaching positions with the highest vacancy rates in public schools were special education (7 percent), English as a Second Language or bilingual education (6 percent), and computer science (5 percent) positions.
  • A larger percentage of public schools in high-poverty neighborhoods had at least one teaching vacancy (57 percent) compared to public schools in low-poverty neighborhoods (41 percent).
  • A larger percentage of public schools with a high-minority student body (greater than 75 percent minority) had at least one teaching vacancy (60 percent) compared to schools with a low-minority student body (25 percent or less minority; 32 percent).
  • As of October 2022, 6 percent of all public school non-teaching staff positions were vacant. The average public school had one vacant non-teaching staff position.
    • Sixteen percent of public schools had one non-teaching staff vacancy and 24 percent had multiple non-teaching staff vacancies.
    • The top three non-teaching staff positions with the highest vacancy rates in public schools were tutors (9 percent), transportation staff (8 percent), and custodial staff (8 percent).

Food Services

  • As of October 2022, 88 percent of public schools participated in USDA School Meal programs, a decrease from the 94 percent of schools that reported participating as of March 2022, during the 2021-22 school year.
    • Seventy-three percent of public schools participating in USDA School Meal programs reported that it was the same or easier to operate USDA School Meal programs during this school year (2022-23) compared to the 2021-22 school year.
  • Sixty-nine percent of public schools that participated in USDA School Meal programs reported that more than half of their student body utilized these programs, a decrease from the 84 percent of schools that reported more than half of their student body utilized these programs in the 2021-22 school year.
  • The three challenges most commonly reported by schools about running their meal programs (whether through the USDA School Meal programs or another meal program) were convincing parents to submit applications for free or reduced-price meals (34 percent), school food service staffing shortages (32 percent), and increased program costs (29 percent).
    • Eighteen percent of public schools that offered meals to students (whether through the USDA School Meal programs or another meal program) reported not having experienced any challenges to operating their school meal programs during the 2022-23 school year.

Supply-Chain Issues

  • As of October 2022, 83 percent of public schools reported having experienced procurement challenges that appeared to be the result of supply-chain issues during the 2022-23 school year. The most prevalent challenges were in procurement of food services (55 percent), laptops and other electronic devices (48 percent), and school furniture (30 percent).
  • The three most commonly reported ways that schools have responded to supply-chain issues were reducing options available to staff and students (e.g., fewer menu items; 48 percent), purchasing products that were alternatives to those originally intended (47 percent), and identifying alternate vendors for the same products (40 percent).

Learning Modes and Quarantine Prevalence

  • During October 2022, 99 percent of public schools offered in-person learning, 17 percent offered full-time remote learning, and 6 percent offered hybrid learning.
  • The percentage of public schools that reported having to quarantine students in October 2022 was 30 percent, a decrease from the 47 percent that had students quarantine in September 2022. Nineteen percent of public schools reported having to quarantine staff members in October 2022, a decrease from the 27percent that had staff quarantine in September 2022.

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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