Teacher shortage: Mississippi short of 3,000 certified teachers


The Mississippi Department of Education says there are 3,036 certified teacher vacancies statewide — a staggering number that shows the extent of the state’s long-serving teacher shortage.

Mississippi Today has repeatedly reported since 2019 that state officials have never tracked data regarding the state’s critical teacher shortage. The release of the new data last week by the MDE marks the first time the generational issue has been comprehensively tracked by state officials.

The vacancies were reported by all school districts in the state, and state officials said the figure of 3,036 includes both positions that remain completely vacant and positions currently filled by unpaid teachers. certified. There are currently about 32,000 total teachers in the state.

“This is perhaps one of the most comprehensive pictures we’ve ever had of the teacher shortage,” said Courtney Van Cleve, director of educator talent acquisition and effectiveness at MDE. , when presenting the data to the State Board of Education on Dec. 16.

The largest number of vacancies is at the elementary level, with 958 vacancies. Secondary school teachers come second out of 881 vacancies. The remaining 1,200 vacancies were for high school teachers and music/arts/special education.

The survey also measured vacancies in support staff and administration. Adding these vacancies to teaching positions, the total number of vacancies in Mississippi is 5,503. food services.

The survey was conducted in September 2021 for the 2021-2022 school year and had 100% district participation.

“Looking at a lot of your faces, I recognize that (these) numbers can look daunting,” Van Cleve told the board. “It can even be discouraging. And yet, we are really encouraged. We are encouraged in the office of teaching and leadership that a number of the strategies we have in place are indeed targeting some of the areas of greatest need statewide.

Van Cleve then highlighted two programs, the Mississippi Teacher Residency and the Performance Based Licensure Pilot, which aim to facilitate the process of fully certifying a teacher for the classroom and attracting and retaining more teachers. Early data from the MDE showed that both programs successfully helped teachers overcome obstacles.

When Angela Bass, a member of the State Board of Education, asked how this teacher shortage compares to previous years, Van Cleve explained that it was the first time the Department of Education had this level of data, meaning there is no benchmark to compare it to. at.

Teaching vacancies were also presented by congressional district. The largest portion of vacancies exist in the 3rd Congressional District, with 1,274. The 1st Congressional District had the lowest number at 276.

Lawmakers said they plan to address the nation’s lowest teacher salary — a major contributing factor to the state’s teacher shortage — when they return to the Capitol in January 2022.

ANALYSIS: Teachers’ pay remains an afterthought despite unique financial opportunity

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