BOISE – The Idaho State Board of Education learned on Thursday that the number of vacant teacher openings statewide is about a tenth of what they were last spring but that the majority of vacancies that continue to exist are in hard-to-fill positions such as Special Education, Math, and Science. School Districts have filled many positions through emergency certifications, using paraprofessionals and others to fill vacancies.
Last May, an informal survey of school districts showed there were as many as 900 vacancies statewide. A follow-up survey indicates that the number of vacancies for certified teacher positions across the state dropped to 134 since the start of the school year.
Of the 134 vacant positions, 68 percent are in Special Education, 52 percent are in Math, and 35 percent are in Science. Many of the vacant positions are being filled by people with little or no education experience or training.
“This is not just an Idaho problem, it is a nationwide problem and it is incumbent on education leaders to find ways to mentor the people who are filling these positions to ensure that quality education continues in our classrooms,” Board Vice President Dr. Linda Clark said.
Lewis-Clark State College and the College of Southern Idaho have both initiated programs to provide pathways for certified staff such as teacher’s aides to earn teaching credentials without having to relocate.
Also, the State Board of Education will introduce a proposal during the 2023 legislative session to create a teacher apprenticeship program to help districts fill vacant positions with staff interested in becoming certified teachers.
87 of Idaho’s 115 school districts responded to the latest survey conducted by the Idaho Association of School Administrators.