teacher shortage

A shortage of full-time and substitute teachers is placing a severe strain on Washington's schools according to surveys of principals analyzed by a team from the University of Washington College of Education. 

Among the key findings: 80 percent of principals have had to hire under-qualified teachers while three-quarters of principals had personally substituted for a classroom teacher within the previous five days.

The surveys were sponsored by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Association of Washington School Principals and analyzed by a team affiliated with the Master's in Education Policy (MEP) program at UW.

"Urban, suburban and rural schools across every region of the state are struggling to fill all of their teacher positions, as well as hire substitutes," said Alan Moore (MEd '15), assistant director of UW's MEP program. "These shortages are even more pronounced in the most poverty-impacted schools."

Survey highlights include:

  • 45 percent of principals weren't able to fill all teacher positions with fully-certified teachers who met the job qualifications.
  • 61 percent of urban schools still had classroom teacher positions that were unfilled in mid-October.
  • 24 percent of principals reported being in "crisis mode" and unable to find qualified, certificated candidates, while another 69 percent reported it is a significant challenge to find enough candidates.
  • Endorsement areas that schools are finding it most difficult to find certificated teachers are special education (66 percent), elementary (36 percent), mathematics (32 percent) and science (26 percent).
  • 74 percent of principals had to cover a classroom within the past five school days because no substitute teacher was available.
  • 54 percent reported being in "crisis mode" and unable to find enough substitutes on most days; another 44 percent said it is a significant challenge to find enough substitutes.
  • 84 percent of elementary school principals reported that finding enough qualified teachers would present a barrier to reducing K-3 classes sizes in their building.

More than 730 principals responded to each survey, representing 35 percent of the state's public schools.

Joining Moore on the project team analyzing the results were Matt Tanguay (MEd '15) and Hunter Plumer (MHA '14).


Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications

206-543-1035, dwunder@uw.edu