The Frontline Research and Learning Institute is dedicated to providing data-driven research, resources and observations to support and advance the educational community. As K-12 navigates the labor shortage, comprehensive and the most up-to-date data will equip school leaders with knowledge and actionable insights to make informed decisions in attracting quality staff and ensuring that open positions are being filled in a timely manner. This research brief, focused on instructional staff, is the second in a two-part series highlighting the story data tells in reference to staff shortages. The previous research brief focused on non-instructional roles.

Key Finding: Like the non-instructional staff shortage discussed in Part 1 of this series, the data analyzed in this brief suggests that supply (not enough candidates) rather than demand (resulting from a large number of current employees leaving the profession) is the primary contributor to the current K-12 instructional staff shortage. The magnitude of the supply issues differs greatly between the various teacher subject areas. This paper provides key strategies that can assist districts in filling even the most impacted positions.

Many of today’s K-12 district leaders find themselves struggling to recruit and hire enough qualified teachers to meet school demands and serve students. The current shortage is often attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that a host of unprecedented stressors have driven teachers from the profession at a faster than normal rate. Another factor that has been identified as affecting the shortage is the number of candidates entering the field of teaching.

We have analyzed nationally representative data from January 2019 through July 2022 to provide insights on the role both lack of candidates and increased attrition play in the shortage. Up-to-date, data-driven insights will prepare school leaders with the information they need to attract quality instructional staff to their district.

Following a basic supply and demand economic model, the analysis investigates the quantity of candidates applying for jobs (supply) as well as the availability of open positions (demand). Trends show changes to both sides of the equation over the past few years that are contributing to a labor shortage, however the decline in candidates is more pronounced than the increase in available jobs. The conclusion being that the resulting shortage is primarily a result of fewer individuals looking to fill positions. This is a similar finding to the non-instructional role shortage.