Virginia continues to suffer from a statewide teacher shortage. On September 12th, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) met to present several reports, one of which was a study of Virginia’s K-12 Teacher Pipeline. The study resolution directed JLARC to identify K-12 teacher workforce trends, evaluate factors contributing to the decline in teacher preparation program enrollment, identify practices to increase enrollment in traditional teacher preparation programs, and evaluate the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) teacher licensure process. The report found that 4.8 percent of teaching positions were vacant at the start of the 2023–24 school year, up from 3.9 percent in the prior school year (and less than 1 percent in years prior to the pandemic). 16 percent of Virginia’s teachers were not fully licensed or not teaching “in field” in SY2022–23, up from 14 percent in the prior school year (and 6 percent a decade ago). The severity of these problems varies from locality to locality.
This trend follows a November 2022 report from JLARC which highlighted the additional challenges to the teaching profession stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the decline in individuals entering the profession. Vacant teaching positions continue to be above the historical trend since the 2021-2022 school year. The latest available data shows a continued deficit of 5,482 teachers between newly licensed teachers and those leaving. The main reasons reported by teachers for leaving the profession are personal reasons or inadequate support for teachers, too high of a workload, ineffective school leadership, and inadequate salary.
Recent JLARC reports have recommended ways to address issues related to teacher support and workload (e.g., more instructional assistants), and salary (e.g., changing the SOQ formula inputs to more accurately reflect actual teacher salaries). This report recommended legislative action to allow for a waiver for individuals who have not passed the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) as well as increasing funding to the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program, among other provisions.
VACo maintains the following legislative positions regarding K-12 staff shortages and retention: VACo urges the General Assembly to approve and fund strategies addressing the teacher shortage in the Commonwealth. VACo supports a targeted approach to teacher shortage by prioritizing areas in critical need, as recommended by the Virginia Department of Education. VACo supports using district-level data to determine how to best fill shortage gaps, especially in hard-to-staff divisions. VACo supports reducing burdens on the teacher workforce in the Commonwealth. VACo supports programs aimed at reducing student debt for teaching in public schools. VACo also supports programs that encourage teachers to stay in the profession including measures that provide mentorship, guidance and other forms of support for teachers in their first five years in the profession.
VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett