Instructional Aids | Research

K-12 Teachers Out of Pocket $1.6 Billion on Classroom Tools

Public school teachers spent $1.6 billion of their own money on classroom supplies and gear in the 2012-2013 school year, according to a report released Wednesday.

All told, teachers spent $3.2 billion on classroom tools this school year, only half of which was funded for them.

The research was not conducted by a teacher advocacy group; rather it was conducted by an organization that represents the retailers that supply learning aids, classroom supplies, and other tools to educators, the National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA).

The study found that 99.5 percent of all public school teachers spent some amount of money out of pocket, with the national average for 2013-2013 coming in at $485 among those surveyed.

Broken down:

  • $149 out of pocket went toward school supplies;
  • $198 went for instructional materials; and
  • $138 was spent on "other classroom supplies."

A full 10 percent reported spending $1,000 or more out of pocket. That was double the percentage recorded in previous studies by the NSSEA.

The combined out-of-pocket and funded expenditures per teacher in the 2012-2013 school year were $945, with $268 going toward school supplies, $491 going for instructional materials, and $186 spent on other classroom supplies.

The study also found that parents are contributing less toward classroom equipment. In 2010, the first year the study was conducted, 47 percent of survey respondents indicated parents were required to purchase classroom materials. That was down to 25 percent in the current year's survey.

The complete report, the 2013 NSSEA Retail Market Awareness Study, can be accessed on NSSEA's site for a fee.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .