PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A recent survey of 200 school districts and charter schools conducted by the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association shows there are nearly 2,000 vacant teacher positions in the state several months into the school year.

According to the survey, that means around 26.6% of teaching positions in Arizona haven't been filled.

Still, the December 2020 survey marks a slight improvement in the percentage of teacher openings compared to ASPAA's survey taken in August. That survey got responses from 145 school districts and charter schools and showed 28.1% of teaching positions in Arizona were vacant.

New report says Arizona is facing the worst teacher shortage it has ever seen

The ASPAA says the pandemic is playing a significant role in the shortage, with many teachers quitting or taking a leave of absence because of COVID-19 concerns.

"I just think it's worsened the circumstance," said Justin Wing with ASPAA. 

Since the school year began, the ASPAA found 501 teachers that resigned or retired, citing COVID-19 as a primary reason.

The survey also showed that around 3,482 teaching positions in Arizona have been filled using employees that don't meet standard teaching requirements. That makes up 46.5% of Arizona's teaching positions.

In all, the ASPAA's survey shows that around 73.1% of Arizona's teaching positions are either vacant or filled with an employee that doesn't have the proper qualifications.

This is the sixth year that ASPAA has conducted the bi-yearly survey, every school year they've done it Arizona has had a teacher shortage.

"I anticipate we're going to have the same discussion August and December of this next school year, and the year after," Wing said. 

empty classroom

According to the survey, around 26.6% of teaching positions in Arizona haven't been filled.

So how does the state get more teachers into classrooms?

ASPAA says the latest 20% pay increase was a good start, but there needs to be even more money for educators. They also say there needs to be an increased focus on getting more college students to major in education, creating a stronger pipeline for future teachers. 


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