Recruitment & Retention From Our Research Center

The Outlook Is Bad for School Hiring This Fall

By Mark Lieberman — July 28, 2022 2 min read
Illustration of job applicant and missing puzzle pieces.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

School district leaders have felt the staffing crisis rumbling beneath their feet for more than a year, and a new school year is only reinforcing their fears about the challenges of recruiting educators and those who support them.

Most schools are seeing fewer job candidates for crucial positions than during the same period last year, an EdWeek Research Center survey shows—and an even greater percentage of those polled are seeing fewer candidates than they need to keep their schools running optimally, new survey data show.

The nationally representative sample of 255 principals and 280 district leaders was conducted between June 29 and July 18. Just shy of three-quarters said the number of candidates this year for teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, food service workers, and custodial workers is insufficient.

That shortage is true even for the small proportion—below 10 percent—of respondents who said they have more applicants this year than last.

Hiring challenges for bus drivers appear particularly painful. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they don’t have enough candidates to fill open bus driver positions. Seventy-nine percent said they have fewer applicants for those positions than they did last year.

Fewer than one-third of respondents said they have enough candidates for teachers, paraprofessional, and food service worker positions.

Schools are also struggling, though not as widely, to find enough administrators. Slightly more than one-third of district leaders and principals said they don’t have enough candidates for open administrator positions. Forty-five percent said they have fewer administrator candidates than they did last year.

A long-building crisis

Administrators were raising the alarm about hiring difficulties throughout the 2021-22 school year. Many districts are seeing far greater staff challenges than the typical difficulties they face luring people to a profession characterized in many places by low pay, minimal benefits, high-stakes responsibilities, and political controversy.

When schools aren’t fully staffed, children lose valuable services and instructional time, and existing employees have to strain to fill gaps. Students with disabilities, students from poor families, and English-language learners are among the groups disproportionately harmed by staff shortages.

Education Week last month published two in-depth reports on these issues: one that explored the compounding effects of staff shortages on student learning, and another that detailed districts’ attempts at solving these problems.

Strategies to cope with the staffing challenges have included shifting to a four-day school week, tapping emergency certified teachers, and using contractors to fill staff gaps, among others.

See also

Northwest High School junior Savannah Darner, 16, cleans an office at Northwest Valley Middle School in House Springs, Mo., on Dec. 14, 2021. As staff shortages impact school districts across the country, Northwest School District, outside of St. Louis, hired its own students to fill some of their vacancies.
Savannah Darner, 16, cleans an office at Valley Middle School in House Springs, Mo., where she works part-time as a custodian. Savannah, a junior, is one of several students who recently began working for the Northwest School District to help fill vacancies in food service, childcare, and custodial services.
Whitney Curtis for Education Week

Districts also have been getting creative to deal with these systemic challenges that show no signs of abating. Among those tactics:

Some proposed solutions are more drastic. The Emporia district in Kansas recently considered closing an elementary school weeks before the start of the school year to divert staff resources elsewhere. The school board ultimately decided against the move, instead opting for staggered start times, hiring qualified student teachers from a nearby university, and transferring instructional strategists to teaching roles.

Other districts have proposed developing their own affordable housing or tapping outside providers to live-stream some classes.

education week logo subbrand logo RC RGB

Data analysis for this article was provided by the EdWeek Research Center. Learn more about the center’s work.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Assessment Webinar
Reimagining Grading in K-12 Schools: A Conversation on the Value of Standards-Based Grading
Hear from K-12 educational leaders and explore standards-based grading benefits and implementation strategies and challenges
Content provided by Otus
Reading & Literacy Webinar How Background Knowledge Fits Into the ‘Science of Reading’ 
Join our webinar to learn research-backed strategies for enhancing reading comprehension and building cultural responsiveness in the classroom.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Assessment Webinar
Innovative Strategies for Data & Assessments
Join our webinar to learn strategies for actionable instruction using assessment & analysis.
Content provided by Edulastic

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Recruitment & Retention Opinion It Will Take More Than $60K Salaries to Solve the Teacher Shortage
The American Teacher Act would be a good start, but let's not imagine that it will solve all the problems in the teaching profession.
Katherine Norris & Kathryn Wiley
5 min read
US 100 dollar bill as a bait on a fishing hook.
iStock/Getty
Recruitment & Retention How Many Teachers and Principals Quit in the Pandemic? One State Has Answers
In North Carolina, the numbers of educators leaving the classroom exceeded new hires.
4 min read
men and women entering and exiting open doorways on an isolated blue background
iStock/Getty
Recruitment & Retention Building the Superintendent Pipeline: Advice From 3 District Leaders
Creating a deep pool of talent pays dividends, superintendents say.
2 min read
Art Cavazos
Art Cavazos, the former superintendent of Harlingen school district, said it's important to give potential successors the chance to build their skills and test their capabilities.
AP
Recruitment & Retention What the Research Says How to Keep Science Teachers in the Schools That Need Them Most
Professional connections can be key to retaining educators for STEM courses.
4 min read
Joseph Cynor, who teaches 8th grade science at Winona Middle School, counsels a group of students on which combination of vinegar and baking soda might create the biggest explosion on Feb. 22, 2019.
Joseph Cynor, who teaches 8th grade science at Winona Middle School, counsels a group of students on which combination of vinegar and baking soda might create the biggest explosion on Feb. 22, 2019.
Madeline Heim/The Daily News via AP