Teacher Shortage

Report: South Carolina Teacher Shortage is Getting Worse

South Carolina started the 2016-17 school year with 481 open teaching positions and it looks like the teacher shortage there is getting worse, according to the latest report from the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA).

Since 2001, CERRA has administered its annual Supply and Demand Survey of South Carolina’s public school districts. The organization Wednesday released the results of its Fall 2016 Supply and Demand Survey, which found that more South Carolina public school teachers are leaving their classrooms each year, with almost 6,500 teachers not returning to their posts this year (up 21 percent from the previous year). Of that number, 1,640 teachers started teaching in a different district, but more than 4,800 are no longer teaching in any school district in the state.

Other key findings include:

  • Teachers are leaving their positions early in their careers: Of those SC teachers who did not return to their positions for the 2016-17 school year, 38 percent left within the first five years of teaching and 12 percent chose not the return to the classroom after one year or less.
  • Fewer teachers are completing SC teacher education programs: Each year, the number of graduates from these programs decreases. For the 2014-15 school year, 31 percent of new hires completed certification programs in SC; for 2015-16, it was 29 percent; and this school year, these individuals make up just a quarter of newly hired teachers.
  • The shortage varies between grade levels: High school teachers accounted for 27 percent of all teachers hired for the 2016-17 school year (down from 29 percent the previous year), while middle schools teachers comprised 24 percent of hires both years. Primary and elementary school teachers, on the other hands, have increased from 47 percent to 49 percent of new hires this year.
  • Certain subjects are short while others are experiencing an influx of teachers: Less special education teachers were hired this year (making up 20 percent of all unfilled teaching positions), as well as speech language therapy, literacy, social studies and media studies. But, significant increases occurred in English language arts, technology and mathematics subjects.

South Carolina isn’t the only state experiencing a shortage of K–12 teachers: There are approximately 116,000 open teaching jobs in the United States, according to Teachers of Tomorrow. The organization helps recruit and train potential teachers and recently released some resources to help education leaders tackle the issue. Both New York and Illinois have been experiencing a similar situation to South Carolina, with more than 6,000 teaching positions open in each state. Florida and Texas have also been impacted, with about 5,700 and 8,000 open teaching positions respectively. California is short by a whopping 14,000 teachers.

Teacher shortages have prompted some school districts to get creative with employment efforts. In Georgia, for example, one district has turned to technology and started hiring “virtual teachers” to fill vacant teaching positions.

South Carolina school districts have begun offering starting salary incentives, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, The Post and Courier reported.

The state’s education superintendent, Molly Spearman, told the news organization that South Carolina “will continue to review and make common-sense changes to our certification regulations, promote and expand our state and district alternative certification programs, and work closely with our educator preparation programs to ensure they are preparing graduates with the tools necessary to effectively teach in the rural and high poverty areas of our state.”

To find out more information about SC’s teacher shortage, view the Fall 2016 Supply and Demand Survey here.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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