Parents Panic Over Teacher Shortage

Survey Reveals Three-Fourths of Parents are ‘Most Concerned’ about Lack of Teachers

A national Harris survey of US parents commissioned by Lexia Learning, found a large majority (76%) of parents are most concerned about the national teacher shortage—more than any other topic.

These concerns were shared by parents about their expectations and perspectives around the 2022-2023 school year and come at a time when many parents believe their children need more support and individualized time with teachers—especially considering pandemic-related learning loss. Almost half of parents (45%) think more one-on-one time with teachers would help their child be at or above grade level in the upcoming school year.

“Teachers are the most important factor in student success,” said Lexia Learning President, Nick Gaehde. “These survey findings are yet another indicator that we need broad solutions to attract and retain educators and build better support systems especially for the most under-resourced educators.”

Although most parents believe their kids will start the school year at or above grade level (78%), more than half (51%) feel their kids are still experiencing pandemic-related learning loss.

As many students continue to seek additional academic support and other extra help, survey findings revealed teacher burnout as a concern for 25% of parents. The concern is warranted, as a National Education Association (NEA) survey from January 2022 found that 55% of teachers have said they will leave the profession earlier than planned. In many schools, teachers are doing double duty trying to catch up their students academically while also addressing their social and emotional health needs. In fact, a sizable number of parents, 29%, continue to be concerned about the lack of adequate support for students’ social and emotional health.

With so much on most teachers’ plates, the survey also explored parents’ thoughts on retaining teachers. More than two-thirds of parents (64%) cited higher pay as the key to teacher retention, followed by smaller class sizes (46%). Only 20% of parents believe their child’s school has compensated teachers fairly.

These findings are reinforced in ongoing research from the Economic Policy Institute that found teachers earned 19.2% less than similar college-educated workers in other occupations in 2019, a gap that has grown for more than 20 years with only slight improvements.

“It will take the best minds in our communities to solve this crisis in education. Collaboration between businesses and legislators, teachers, administrators, parents and communities, and universities and nonprofits is critical,” said Gaehde. “Teachers have an awesome responsibility. They deserve the best support we can offer them.”

When it comes to parents’ general emotions around back-to-school, 48% of parents noted they felt optimistic about the school year. More than half of those with a child attending school in the new year (57%) said the 2022-2023 school year will be better for their child than last school year. Dads also reported more positive emotions about the upcoming school year than moms, such as optimism (55% vs 42%) and relief (21% vs 12%).  Moms were more likely to express negative emotions than dads, such as concerned (34% vs 22%), nervous (32% vs 18%), worried (28% vs 16%), and fearful (20% vs 9%).

“As we move beyond the pandemic, we are starting to see some real gains in the way education has changed,” said Gaehde. “More technology in the classroom allows for more personalization and real-time data, greater focus on creating equitable learning environments, and more one-on-one instruction. These changes will bring positive impacts for our students.”

Other survey findings include:

  • Only one-third of parents believe their child’s school hired and retained great teachers since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020
  • 79% of parents are satisfied with their child’s school’s ability to catch students up from pandemic-related learning loss
  • 53% of parents are concerned for their child’s social/emotional health if they would have to move to remote learning at some point during the upcoming school year
  • 82% of parents believe the teachers at their child’s school are properly trained to use technology (e.g., education programs, apps) in the classroom
  • Just 1 in 3 parents (33%) believe their child’s school has done well with investing in technology resources to help students outside the classroom since March 2020

Survey Methodology:

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Lexia Learning from June 22 – June 30, 2022, among 1,013 U.S. parents with a child 3-17, among whom 911 have a child who will attend school for the upcoming year. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 4.7 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact [email protected]