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Teacher Shortage in Texas: What Happened and How to Overcome It

December 13, 2023

Teacher Shortage In Texas (1200 X 750 Px)

Like much of the country, Texas is currently experiencing extreme teacher shortages. 

According to Kelvey Oeser, a commissioner in the Texas Education Agency, the biggest issue facing Texas is high attrition rates, creating widespread vacancies. Most of these teachers are quitting, reflecting the crisis of teacher burnout, although Texas has also seen high retirement rates.

Teacher shortages mean less stable school environments, bigger class sizes, and more stressed-out administrators. All of these factors have negative effects on student outcomes.

What Is Causing the Teacher Shortage in Texas?

A complex combination of factors makes teacher retention a challenge in Texas. This includes low pay for teachers in a tough economy, lack of support, and turmoil in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Low Pay Compared to the National Average

The average Texas public teacher salary is $59,783 — notably lower than the national average of $66,397 (both numbers adjusted for cost of living). Teachers already earn less than those in other fields with similar education levels. Uncompetitive salaries make retaining teachers who could make more in other states especially challenging.

Lack of State Funding

Texas spent $4,000 less per student than the national average in 2021 and remains behind in public education investments. Less funding can mean fewer classroom resources, insufficient support, and dated buildings and equipment — making teaching even more difficult.

High Attrition Rate

Texas schools lost 13.4% of teachers between 2021 and 2022, a historic high. Teacher burnout, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in violent incidents at schools, and culture wars have all caused some teachers to leave the profession altogether. 

Schools are scrambling to fill the unprecedented number of vacancies, leading administrators to hire uncertified teachers. While administrators do their best with few resources, students shoulder the burden. High numbers of inexperienced and untrained teachers decrease the quality of their education.

What Kind of Teachers Are in Demand in Texas?

Vacancies that require special training are the most difficult to fill. In Texas, the elementary and secondary levels have the most vacancies, especially in:

  • English as a second language (ESOL)
  • Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
  • Special education
  • Certified technical education (CTE)

What Is Texas Doing About the Teacher Shortage?

The teacher shortage crisis has demanded a response from both school districts and the state government. They’ve addressed factors like low pay and the cost of training while developing solutions to prevent new teachers from quickly burning out.

Raising Teacher Pay

Texas lawmakers passed a bill in 2023 to increase salaries for teaching positions. Senate Bill 2, School Finance and Supplemental Payments for Teachers, will offer one-time $3,000–10,000 retention bonuses for the 2023–2024 school year. 

For the 2024–2025 school year, each teacher in the state will gain permanent salary boosts of $3,000 — and those in rural districts will get an extra $7,000. While the bill was criticized for being insufficient to keep up with inflation, districts hope the raise will help keep teachers.

Expanding Teacher Preparation Programs

School districts have worked to open up more paths to becoming a teacher. Residency programs are popular for bolstering pipelines by offering stipends or other benefits. They reduce the cost burden of education and certification. 

For example, the Brazosport Independent School District (ISD) is experimenting with a new apprenticeship program. This program covers the cost of a bachelor’s degree and teaching certification in exchange for teaching in the district for three years. As part of the program, apprentices are paired with experienced mentors. 

A similar program from Austin Community College trains aspiring teachers who already meet educational requirements. Students receive a stipend and complete a combination of coursework and on-campus mentoring. 

The college hopes the program will provide an affordable pathway to becoming a teacher and reduce attrition by better supporting new teachers.

Increased Hiring of Uncertified Teachers

In the past, Texas attempted to fill more teaching positions with certified professionals by relaxing license requirements. Unfortunately, the shortages persisted because the reduced requirements resulted in lower teacher salaries

Still, about 30% of educators hired across Texas last year lacked a state certification — and that number is expected to grow. 

Some Texas school districts have even turned to hiring teachers from abroad for language classes, STEM classes, and more. While school districts have found experienced teachers to bring into the United States, the culture shock and differences in curriculum make the transition challenging.

How Texas Can Overcome the Teacher Shortage

To make a real difference, Texas will need to introduce drastic changes to teachers’ working conditions and pay. School districts must also proactively find solutions that will work for their unique schools.

Increasing Teacher Salaries

Increasing teacher salaries to meet or exceed the national average will help Texas school districts compete with other states for new recruits. It will also help schools retain teachers in a difficult economy.

Allowing Teachers To Work Remotely and Set Their Own Hours

Remote, live teaching would allow Texas to recruit teachers who don’t want to move to the areas with teacher shortages. It would also make teaching positions in Texas more attractive by erasing commute times and allowing for more flexibility. 

Remote teachers could even set their own hours by teaching classes offered at the times that work best for them. This flexibility invites talented educators who might otherwise turn down public school positions due to the rigid schedules.

Elevate offers live synchronous teaching in regular classrooms — eliminating the commute and providing a better work-life balance. Our teachers choose class times that accommodate their at-home obligations. With Elevate, schools gain access to the certified teachers they need — no matter where they are. 

Increasing In-Classroom Support

Paraprofessionals help remove some of the burden on teachers by assisting with classroom management and providing individualized instruction. 

The research backs up the benefits of paraeducators — their presence results in more positive student outcomes. Extra in-classroom support can also reduce teacher burnout, keeping more teachers in their positions.

Elevate builds paraprofessional support into our teaching model. We find great teachers to livestream into your classrooms while the district-provided paraprofessionals offer in-person support for learners.

Reducing the Teacher Workload

Teachers’ responsibilities go far beyond classroom instruction. Communicating with administrators and parents, planning lessons, grading assignments, attending meetings, continuing education, and more are all part of the job description. 

Plus, teachers may assist with extracurriculars, like sponsoring school clubs, coaching football, or putting on prom. These activities all infringe on a teacher’s time, which is why the average teacher works 53 hours per week during the school year — and one-quarter of that time is uncompensated.

Reducing workloads could not only reduce the burnout driving teachers away from schools, but also attract new recruits to the profession who can’t commit to 50-hour weeks.

The Charles Butt Foundation found that Texans agreed engaging, relevant lessons are the single most important factor for teacher quality. Reducing the teacher workload will help foster positive student outcomes by allowing teachers to focus on delivering great lessons.

Elevate reduces workloads for teachers through a collaborative teaching model. Elevate teachers can take over lesson plans and grading so the teachers in your school can prioritize making their classrooms exciting and engaging places to learn.

Improving Access To High-quality Instructional Materials

This year’s Teacher Vacancy Task Force (TVTF) recommended that school districts make high-quality instructional materials more accessible. This recommendation stems from the fact that many teachers spend inordinate amounts of time searching for materials.

Elevate solves that problem by providing standard curricula and lesson plans developed by our in-house experts, who focus on crafting engaging, relevant lessons. 

Every curriculum aligns with state and national standards and can be adapted to meet the needs of each school. Our high-quality materials fulfill the TVTF recommendation while making the lives of teachers easier.

Incorporating Technology and Live Synchronous Teaching

Modern technology can help more districts bring in teachers for hard-to-fill vacancies. Live synchronous teaching widens the available talent pool and gives you access to the educators that your school needs. As long as a teacher is certified in Texas, they can teach in your classrooms, regardless of location. 

Elevate makes it easy to connect with engaging certified teachers who teach live. We simplify the process of achieving positive student outcomes with remote instruction. With our technology, you can bring great teachers directly into districts suffering from shortages.

Discover How Elevate Provides a Powerful Solution to the Texas Teacher Shortage

Sometimes, filling a vacancy with a certified, in-person teacher during a shortage is impossible — and Elevate is the next-best solution. Live-streaming qualified, engaging instructors into regular classrooms can make an undeniable difference in your district.

Elevate already has a presence in 29 Texas school districts and counting, including Beaumont, Longview, and DeSoto ISDs. We offer over 140 classes, including special education, STEM, and enrichment electives. Our curriculums are always aligned with TEKS, NCSS, and ACTFL and are adaptable to the needs of your school.

Tackle the teacher shortage head-on by letting us help you bring teachers to your district. With our signature technology-supported model, you can improve student outcomes and reduce teacher burnout.

Learn more about the courses we offer in Texas, or reach out today to see how our solution can change your school district for the better.


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