Florida teacher shortage leads to rising number of classes taught by non-subject certified teachers
Teachers are calling for vaccines sooner. Image via Hilldborough Schools.

'I worry about the thousands and thousands of students who are currently without a full-time teacher.'

A report approved by the Board of Education Wednesday puts the number of teacher vacancies at 4,489, a jump of 800 from last year.

The data, found in the the board’s Identification of Critical Teacher Shortage Areas for 2022-23 annual report, projects the vacancies will surpass 9,000 by the end of the year. The report also projects that there are not enough students in the teacher-training pipeline to fill the vacancies. About 3,300 students completed teacher training in the 2019-20 academic school year.

Catherine Boehme, public policy advocate for the Florida Education Association, spoke during public comment before the report was approved. She pointed out that in 2016, the vacancy count sat at 2,400.

The report also identified that a growing number of Florida teachers are being required to teach subjects they are not certified to teach in that field. Of the 591,461 courses taught statewide, about 59,117 are being taught by someone not certified to teach that field. That’s about 10% of courses. Last year, the percentage sat at 6.7%.

More teachers in charter schools are teaching out-of-field than traditional public schools. Over 13.5% of charter school courses are taught by a teacher not certified in that subject, while the number sits at 8.24% for traditional schools. Those numbers are stark jumps from the shares of 12.12% and 6.19% last year, respectively.

Some course types are being hit harder than others. Over 15.75% of English courses are being taught by a teacher uncertified for the subject. That percentage is 16.8% for ESE classes. While that number is an improvement for ESE classes from last year, 10% of English courses were taught by an uncertified teacher in 2020-21.

There is also a disparity in high density, low economic schools than in low density, low economic schools. There are almost 2.5% more courses taught by a teacher not certified in the subject in poorer urban schools than in poorer rural schools.

While grades of the school’s were not tracked in the past year in the data due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of teachers teaching within their certified subject positively correlated with the school’s performance. In the 2021-2022 report, A-graded schools had 5.24% of their classes taught by someone uncertified. However, the number slowly rose as a school’s grading got worse. B-graded schools averaged 7.06%, C’s averaged 8.09% and D’s averaged 9.3%.

Boehme said the teacher shortage has led to schools combining classes, pulling administrative staff to teach and canceling “special” classes like music and art.

She said the state will have to further incentivize people to go to school or return to school to become teachers if the numbers are to be turned around.

“I worry about the thousands and thousands of students who are currently without a full-time teacher,” she said.

Tristan Wood

Tristan Wood graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a degree in Journalism. A South Florida native, he has a passion for political and accountability reporting. He previously reported for Fresh Take Florida, a news service that covers the Florida Legislature and state political stories operating out of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. You can reach Tristan at [email protected], or on Twitter @TristanDWood


  • YouKnowImRight

    February 9, 2022 at 1:04 pm

    We should go back to gender norms and have the women stay home to school the children. Tax payer funded “schooling” is really only tax payer funded “daycare.”

    And just like that…the world would be a better place!

    • Barbara

      February 9, 2022 at 6:32 pm

      Why don’t you invite thousands of retired teachers back into the system? If they taught for 30 years they don’t need irrelevant in service .. you could bridge the gap and these retired people could mentor some of the younger people..

      • Janet Moody

        February 9, 2022 at 9:53 pm

        Umm retired people don’t want to return because the education system is controlled by individuals who don’t pay us well, don’t respect our educational degrees, and don’t support the needs of our students.

  • Anonymous educator

    February 9, 2022 at 10:46 pm

    Fire DeSantis, vote in Fried and pay teachers what they are worth! No one wants to come back to this occupation when teaching isn’t what it used to be.

    • Megan

      February 10, 2022 at 7:48 am

      What is different? School system is literally one of the only things that’s haven’t really changed at all?

      • Julie

        February 11, 2022 at 3:52 pm

        OMG!! Have you lived under a rock foe the past 40 years?!.!?!?

    • kathryn giallonardo

      February 10, 2022 at 9:19 pm


  • Jeanine Lopez

    February 9, 2022 at 11:04 pm

    If Florida districts paid better then I would be there! I am a highly qualified teacher in California and looked into moving back to Brevard County where I went to high school they wanted to hire me but at half of what I make in California. The cost of living isn’t that much cheaper.

  • NEDDRO Elvin

    February 10, 2022 at 9:48 am

    When I tried recertification after retiring in 2019. Tallahassee had so many restrictions. . I paid, but my certification was denied after 30 years of teaching. I have a Specialist in Reading and I’m also certified in Elementary Education. . No criminal record. I guess they have added additional coursework. During such a critical time there should be exclusions. I was actually about to return to help out due tot the shortage. So much bureaucracy.

  • Keerstin

    February 11, 2022 at 6:52 am

    Teachers need to be paid more. I have 2 extra part time jobs just to make ends meet. There needs to be smaller class sizes that are manageable. This will bring greater support to high need students. The discipline problem is horrible this year. Students are hard to manage because of lack of social skills. Funding for sports in middle schools need to be brought back to give students a sense of community and competition. Pacing guides and standards need to be readdressed coming out of a pandemic. No more standardized testing and quit micromanaging teachers, they have a degree and went to college. Bring back tenure so teachers feel secure in their jobs.

    • Debra Gustafson

      February 11, 2022 at 8:49 am

      Now that’s what I am talking about! This year has been the worst in my career. Students have a 2 year gap in math skills yet I am trying to slam dunk Algebra 1 at the same pace as 3 years ago. Students still think that they can pass with an F, so they are not putting forth the effort into the classroom or studying at home. When they do not get their way, they are disrespectful. We have fights in the halls and cafeteria just about daily. Money? ha! On any day it would not take rocket science to know that what the pay is and the expectations of the job are do not match.

  • T

    February 11, 2022 at 8:35 pm

    The problem is poor pay for way more work than was expected even 5 years ago. The work keeps getting stacked, disrespect from admin and parents, and many unruly students. Retired teachers are retired most likely because they were burned out.

  • Michelle West

    February 13, 2022 at 9:01 am

    Teachers get pushed out of the school system daily by disrespectful administrators, hateful people working at county who think they are better than the teachers in the field. They accuse great teachers of things they didn’t do. I would have stayed a teacher until retirement but they pushed me out despite getting highly effective all 3 of my years teaching and adapted to ever challenge they gave me. I taught classes I wasn’t qualified for and move around in the grade levels half way through the year to help the crisis. I had my personal things stollen and broken daily. Public school is turning into a joke and it is because of the people in charge. They don’t pay us a rightful wage and they are selfish when it comes to the classroom. Once they push out great people, they complain that they are short staffed. What a joke!!!!

  • Brett Tower

    February 20, 2022 at 10:02 am

    Right now, teachers are working as hard as possible to manage an impossible situation in the midst of a historic pandemic. Anyone that wants to pontificate about conditions in modern schools needs to come in and observe for about 10 minutes. If you think education is anything like it was even 10 years ago, you are simply advertising your ignorance.

Comments are closed.


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