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State Teacher Shortages: Teaching Positions Left Vacant or Filled by Teachers Without Full Certification

By Marguerite Franco Susan Kemper Patrick
Empty classroom with a chalkboard and teacher's desk.

To understand how states are experiencing teacher shortages around the country, the Learning Policy Institute reviewed teacher workforce reports and state agency documents covering the 2020–21 or 2021–22 school years. These state-specific data sources are used to estimate the number of teachers not fully certified for their teaching assignments as well as count the number of unfilled teaching positions reported by each state. State laws typically specify that teachers who are not fully certified can be hired or assigned only if a fully certified teacher is not available. Therefore, both data points provide a strong indicator of the severity of shortages, but not all states report these data.

Based on data from the states with published information, 47 states plus the District of Columbia had an estimated 286,290 teachers who were not fully certified for their teaching assignments. The 21 states with published data on vacancies had 27,844 unfilled teacher positions. (See Table 1.) These estimates indicate that, at a minimum, 314,134 positions were either unfilled or filled by teachers not fully certified for their assignments, representing about 1 in 10 of all teaching positions nationally.

Table 1: Teachers Without Full Certification and Unfilled Positions for All Reporting States
Source: Learning Policy Institute (LPI) analysis of state-reported data sources (see Table 2) and Common Core of Data. National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). Common Core of Data, nonfiscal data for SY 2021–22. All estimates were calculated by LPI using the state-level data files.

Additionally, these data are broken out by state. Table 2 (see PDF) captures the estimated minimum number of teachers not fully certified for their teaching assignments and the number of unfilled positions in each of the states with published data for the 2020–21 or 2021–22 school years (the most recent year of data available). Importantly, states vary in how they certify their teachers and report on their certification status. A further description of the data can be found in the PDF.

State-level data and a full description of their sources can be found in the PDF.

State teacher shortages: Teaching positions left vacant or filled by teachers without full certification by Marguerite Franco and Susan Kemper Patrick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Research for this resource was supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Core operating support for LPI is provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Raikes Foundation, Sandler Foundation, and MacKenzie Scott. The ideas voiced here are those of the authors and not those of our funders.