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.