Arizona’s teacher shortage worsened by coronavirus concerns

Sep 18, 2020, 4:35 AM | Updated: 7:32 am

PHOENIX  — Arizona’s teacher shortage has been further impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent survey.

For the sixth consecutive year, an Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association survey showed there continues to be a shortage of instructors in classrooms.

In addition to the dwindling number of Arizona teachers, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted staffing in education.

More teachers and staff are leaving the job or have taken a full-year unpaid leave of absence than in previous years with the primary reason related to health concerns tied to COVID-19.

“Over the past couple of years in late August, school districts and charters experienced a little over 400 teachers who separate from employment for various reasons,” ASPAA data analyst Justin Wing said. 

“This year it skyrocketed to a little over 750 and coincidentally the difference between the 400 plus and the 750 are those that resigned with the primary reason – COVID.”

The numbers show roughly 28% or 1,728 positions across the state this year remain unfilled. Half of which are filled by teachers who do not meet the state’s standard certification requirements. 

That number has increased by nearly 20% from this time last year.

“The study shows that 80% of the teachers who have separated from employment are those who actually went to school to become a teacher,” Wing said.

Despite the recent pay increases, Arizona remains in the bottom five states across the nation for average teacher salary and in education funding. However, Arizona ranks in the top five for states with the largest classroom sizes.

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Arizona’s teacher shortage worsened by coronavirus concerns