For the past six years, the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association (ASPAA) surveys school districts and charters four weeks and four months into each school year. The December 2020 survey results confirm that there is little progress made to the severe teacher shortage in Arizona.
The recent data indicates about 27% of teacher vacancies across the state remain unfilled while about 47% of the vacancies are filled by teachers who do not meet the state’s standard certification requirements. These results reinforce the need to increase funding for public education.
Arizona teacher pay remains one of the lowest in the country, even with the recent education budget increase. Meanwhile, Arizona has one of the highest class size ratios in the country.
In addition to the continued teacher shortage, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted staffing in education. More teachers and staff are separating employment or have taken a full-year, unpaid leave of absence than in previous years with the primary reason related to COVID-19.
Arizona children deserve the best teachers and a stable workforce. School district and charter schools compete nationally for the limited pool of candidates. The inability to offer competitive salaries severely limits public schools from attracting the best and the brightest.
The severity of the teacher shortage must be addressed. Arizona’s leaders must make a collective effort to ensure the recruitment and retention of effective teachers through increased funding and improved working conditions. Highly educated and skilled work force are cornerstones to a growing and thriving economy.
The survey focused on teacher vacancies and teachers who have already severed employment as of December 2020, and 200 school districts and charter schools throughout Arizona participated.