How Online Learning Platforms Can Help Curb the Teacher Shortage
February 14th, 2023
Teachers are the most critical assets in an educational institution and an economy because they are the architects of the future. However, the US is facing a major staffing crisis. The number of teachers in July 2022 had declined below the pre-pandemic levels. Although this has been a concern for the country for almost a decade, the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report has brought it to the fore.
The Current State
The teaching staff crisis has spread across the US. Some states have worse than others. As suburban schools attract teachers, rural and underprivileged communities suffer. Despite some measures to improve the situation, 69% of K-12 institutions reported receiving meager teacher applications for the academic year 2022-2023 and fear this shortage may continue.
The National Education Association (NAE) estimated a shortage of about 300,000 teachers in rural areas in the academic year 2021-2022. The highest demand was for special education and STEM teachers. Even foreign language subjects had a huge supply gap of teaching professionals.
Why Are There Fewer Teachers Now?
There are many reasons for the nationwide teacher shortage in the K-12 segment. Among them is that about 55% of teachers plan to quit earlier than initially planned due to workload and burnout. But there’s more to the story:
- On average, teachers work 52 hours a week, while principals work 58 hours. About 17% of teachers work two jobs to meet their financial needs. The teaching profession demands many sacrifices in their personal lives, as teachers need to prepare for the following day’s lessons in their personal time. Moreover, taking care of individual learner needs without breaks often takes a toll on their mental health.
- In 28 states of the US, teachers earn only 80% of what similar college graduates in other professions do. And the perks for teachers are not enough to offset the 23.5% wage discrepancy. Low pay also serves as a hit to their morale.
- Safety concerns, such as disease transmission, complete accountability of student performance, and violence against teachers, give rise to fear and discourage people from pursuing this profession.
- Political pressure across the country, for instance, punishing teachers for progressive views and banning books on LGBTQ+ awareness, are making the current generation lose interest in teaching as they seek equality and freedom of speech. While the aging teaching generation is nearing retirement, the upcoming generation is demotivated.
Impact of Teacher Shortage
Teacher shortage impacts not only the education system but also the economy and society as a whole. Here’s an overview:
The Domino Effect
It threatens students’ learning abilities and directly affects their earning capacity as they grow into adults. In addition, depressed student achievement further lowers the profession’s reputation, resulting in fewer turnouts for job postings.
Who is the Worst Impacted?
The effects of this staffing crisis are more pronounced in schools with students of color and those that include students with disabilities as well as low-income families. They are the ones suffering from poor learning outcomes. State-wise, Florida, which lacked 4,000, Illinois 1,703, and Arizona 1,699, along with Utah, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, Colorado, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma, were listed as the top states struggling to fill teacher vacancies.
What is Being Done?
Schools in high-income areas are offering extra benefits and higher wages to attract teachers. However, the weakening reputation of the profession and the political scenario are still creating obstacles. Some districts have even reduced teaching to a 4 days a week job. Additionally, some are allowing underqualified and unprepared teachers, even non-teachers, to take classes. This is affecting learning opportunities for students and their access to the necessary resources. Overloading existing teachers with more students per classroom results in poor personal attention, affecting the learning outcomes of individual learners and job satisfaction among educators.
The Solution: Digital Learning
After the NAEP report came out with dismal reading and mathematical skills of 4th and 8th graders, technology was proposed as a solution to disrupt the shortage. It can serve as a powerful tool to make high-quality educators accessible by bridging the demand and supply gaps across geographies. Moreover, online learning solutions can facilitate a systematic and coordinated process to fill teacher vacancies. Finally, the flexibility of anytime, anywhere education can transform how students from poorer regions experience learning.
MagicBox is a cutting-edge technology provider with various tools to help EdTech companies offer this disruptive innovation to improve the teacher-to-student ratio in schools. MagicBox’s customizable and comprehensive learning management solution is equipped with lesson creation, student management, assessment creation, and evaluation features. In addition, the lesson development module accommodates diverse regulatory compliances, such as SCORM, WCAG, COPPA, and FERPA, as well as state adoption criteria to help teachers from anywhere build compliant lessons. EdTech companies can use these plug-and-play tools to deliver effective learning management systems in the K-12 segment.
Contact us now to learn how our digital learning products can help you establish yourself as a leading K-12 LMS provider.