PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Education, along with Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and the ASU Helios Decision Center for Educational Excellence, released a report detailing how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Arizona Teacher Workforce. While the overall size of the workforce did not change significantly, there was a significant decline in the specialized teachers needed to help bridge any learning gaps.
The pandemic had a limited impact on the size of the 2021 teaching workforce overall with the number of teachers, both rural and urban areas, not showing any significant change. The average age of classroom teachers and years of experience also remained unchanged, indicating there was not a massive outflow of experienced teachers and an influx of young, new teachers.
However, teachers with specializations such as reading interventionists, bilingual teachers, and elective teachers all declined. This highlights a pressing need to fill in learning gaps and the loss of specialty teachers likely means student needs were not as adequately met.
“As is often the case, our most vulnerable students and the teachers who support their learning have been impacted the most by the pandemic,” said Arizona State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman. “This is why we must ensure schools have the funding they need to recruit and retain these invaluable education experts.”
Where Arizona schools did see increases were the number of students enrolled in online instructional schools and charter schools, leading to a change in the ratio of district school teachers to charter and online school teachers and a 16.9% increase in non-certified teachers who almost exclusively teach in charter schools. Charter schools had over 18,000 more students in 2021, while districts had around 55,000 fewer students causing change in ratio, but not overall workforce numbers.
“Students and their families have been exposed to new models of learning this past year and may choose to stick with them,” added Superintendent Hoffman. “While the Arizona Department of Education believes in-person learning is the best place for students to receive an education, it is vital that we ensure online instructional models deliver the quality instruction they are promising. Initiatives like the Arizona Virtual Teacher Institute can help provide teachers the tools needed to effectively serve students in online environments”
The Arizona Teacher Workforce report summarizes the teacher workforce by years of experience, gender, ethnicity, age and overall numbers. The data collected comes from a submission by local educational agencies through the teacher input application database maintained by the Arizona Department of Education. Over 95% of the state’s local educational agencies submitted data analyzed in this report.
View the the report here.