Teacher shortages affect another school year

Sep 11, 2017

As schools across New York welcome students back for another year, they continue to grapple with the ongoing teacher shortage. The inability to find qualified applicants for certain subjects has left many districts without certified teachers.

That doesn't mean no one is teaching those subjects. Paul Heiser, a senior research analyst with NYSSBA, says it just means that the school district had to hire a teacher for that class who isn't certified in the subject.

"The teacher definitely - in most cases - has certification credentials, but not in that particular subject," Heiser said. "It’s generally a teacher who is existing in the school district who is being shifted from one subject to another to help fill in where there are gaps."

A survey from the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) released earlier this year found that 77 percent of superintendents who responded in central and northern New York said their district has a teacher shortage in science, 46 percent in technology and 41 percent in special education. 

Credit New York State School Boards Association

"If three quarters of superintendents in this particular area in central New York say we are having difficulty finding qualified science teachers, yes I would say that is a significant number," Heiser said. 

The science teacher shortage in central and northern New York was the highest statewide according to the NYSSBA survey. But the report found that every region of New York is currently struggling with a shortage in several subject areas, most often in math, science, bilingual education, special education and career and technical education. 

Heiser said it's not all bad news. NYSSBA reviewed federal teacher shortage data from 2011 and found that there are fewer subjects with teachers shortages in New York in 2017.