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U.S. Schools Report Increased Teacher Vacancies Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, New NCES Data Show
March 3, 2022

Resignations, retirements identified as leading causes for unfilled positions in nation’s public schools

WASHINGTON (March 3, 2022)—Nearly half (44 percent) of public schools currently report full- or part-time teaching vacancies, according to data released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Of public schools with at least one reported vacancy, 61 percent specifically identified the COVID-19 pandemic as a cause of increased teaching and non-teaching staff vacancies.   

“The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a staffing shortage in the nation’s schools,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “Public schools report they are struggling with a variety of staffing issues, including widespread vacancies, and a lack of prospective teachers. These issues are disrupting school operations. Schools have resorted to using more teachers as well as non-teaching staff outside of their intended duties, increasing class sizes, sharing teachers and staff with other schools, and curtailing student transportation due to staff shortages. Schools continue to face meaningful challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Of schools reporting at least one vacancy, special education was identified as the teaching position with the most vacancies, with 45 percent of schools reporting this vacancy, followed by general elementary teaching positions (31 percent) and substitute teachers (20 percent). Resignation was reported as the leading cause of teacher vacancies (51 percent), followed by retirement (21 percent).

“The current staffing situation is not limited to teachers, as public schools are also reporting extensive non-teaching vacancies,” said NCES Associate Commissioner Chris Chapman. “About half of public schools currently report having full- or part-time non-teaching vacancies, and vacancies are particularly pronounced among custodial, transportation, and nutrition staff.”

The findings released today are from the latest round of the experimental School Pulse Panel (SPP) and a new round of data collected through the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). They are part of NCES’s innovative approach to delivering timely information regarding the pandemic’s impact on elementary and secondary schools in the U.S.

The School Pulse Panel is a new study sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences, the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. The study is administered by NCES in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau as part of IES’s response to the Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers. The School Pulse Panel collects extensive data on issues concerning the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and staff in the U.S. from a nationally representative sample of public primary, middle, high, and combined-grade schools. These School Pulse Panel data were collected from public schools from January 11 to January 24, 2022.

This is the second experimental data product release from the School Pulse Panel. 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. NCES clearly identifies experimental data products upon their release.

The NAEP data are from public schools serving fourth- and eighth-graders that were sampled to participate in the 2022 NAEP assessment. The mode of instruction data are based on a sample of 10, 700 schools and were collected from December 6, 2021 through February 10, 2022. The masking and social distancing data are based on a sample of 9, 200 schools and were collected from December 6, 2021 through January 21, 2022.

The data released today can be found at the IES dashboard at

Key Findings:


Mode of instruction

Health and safety


The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 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, located within the Institute of Education sciences (IES), 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.

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: Josue DeLaRosa, NCES,, (202) 705-6692 OR James Elias, Hager Sharp,, 202-355-4417