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Nearly two-thirds of parents say they are concerned about their school’s ability to provide qualified educators due to teacher shortages.

Teacher shortages are worrying the majority of K-12 parents

Nearly two-thirds of parents say they are concerned about their school’s ability to provide qualified educators

Key points:

As the school year begins, an increasing share of U.S. parents are concerned about their children’s education and experience at school. More than half of parents (56 percent) say they are concerned that teachers are burned out to the point that teacher shortages will adversely affect their child’s education, according to the 2023 Back-to-School Study from Qualtrics.

Additionally, 45 percent expect to transport their children to school more often than in previous years because of bus driver shortages. Amid a national teacher shortage, 65 percent of parents report being concerned about their school’s ability to provide qualified educators.

Teacher and staff experience have a ripple effect on the student experience, especially in K-12 education, where enrollment numbers determine funding and resources. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public K-12 schools lost more than one million students from fall 2019 to fall 2020. Qualtrics asked over 1,000 U.S. parents of children in grades K-12 how their children’s educational experience has been impacted by teacher and staff shortages.

Barriers exist to school resources

A higher share of parents this year report problems with the mental health resources at school, up 10 percentage points year-over-year, to 74 percent. The top challenges reported were families not knowing what’s available and only short-term treatment being available.

Although the percentage of parents who said they feel their children are “very safe” rose to 35 percent in 2023, there was no change year-over-year in the share of parents who said that they have either had their children change schools or considered doing so due to safety concerns (46 percent).

Parents said they were most worried about bullying (41 percent), school shootings (35 percent), exposure to drugs (12 percent) and COVID (6 percent). These findings indicate a shift in conversations around school safety over the past year. In 2022, the top three safety concerns were school shootings, bullying and COVID.

Students who fell behind during the pandemic are catching up

The Qualtrics research also found that just about half (48 percent) of parents reported that their child fell behind during the pandemic, compared to 56 percent last year. Of those parents, 30 percent said that their children are six months or more behind in school – a drop of seven percentage points year over year. The data indicates more students are catching up after pandemic-related school closures and remote learning.

Parents report students struggling the most in math (41 percent), reading and writing (24 percent), and social development (24 percent). A larger share of parents in 2023 report that their kids are behind in math (up three percentage points) and in social development (up one percentage point) compared with a year earlier. And while reading and writing have improved year over year by four percentage points, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of parents said that they are concerned about book restrictions or “book bans” at their school.

“Teacher burnout negatively impacts the student experience and the quality of education, and it has a harmful snowball effect on K-12 enrollment and funding,” said Carlos Bortoni, industry advisor for K-12 education at Qualtrics. “K-12 school leaders need to listen to their teachers, staff and communities at this crucial time to understand and fix the underlying causes of burnout, including improvements to school climate, staffing numbers and resources. We must do better for our teachers and our students.”

This press release originally appeared online.

Related: Creativity in the classroom reduces burnout and improves well-being

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