North Carolina teacher vacancies soar by more than 50% in new state report

The number of teaching vacancies has risen in North Carolina’s public schools by more than 50% — stretching the ability of schools to educate their students.

A new report released Wednesday by the state Department of Public Instruction shows that there were 5,540.36 instructional vacancies on the first day of this school year — a 46% increase from the same time in the 2020-21 school year.

Schools were still struggling to fill vacant positions two months into the school year, with 5,091.46 vacancies on the 40th day of classes. That’s a 58% increase over the same time in the 2020-21 school year.

The data will be presented at Wednesday afternoon’s State Board of Education meeting.

Vacancies by subject

By far the largest number of vacancies reported were in elementary schools for the core subjects of math, English language arts, science and social studies. They accounted for 1,223.74 vacancies.

The next highest category was for elementary school special education teachers with 444.25.

When there’s a vacancy, schools take steps such as hiring a retired or part-time teacher, hiring a long-term substitute teacher or interim teacher or hiring a teacher with an emergency teaching license.

Teacher attrition drops

One source of good news is that among the remaining 93,832 teachers, the teacher attrition rate declined. The percentage of teachers who resigned or retired last year dropped to 7.78% compared to 8.2% the previous year.

The teacher mobility rate — showing how many educators changed schools — went up slightly to 3.31% from 3.24% the previous year.

The teacher turnover data is a year old, covering the period from March 2021 to March 2022.