Teacher Vacancies Down 40% Statewide in 2008

January 27, 2009

ROCK HILL, SC – January 26, 2009 – In its annual Teacher/Administrator Supply and Demand Survey, the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancements reports teacher vacancies decreased substantially for the current school year in South Carolina’s public K-12 schools.

Because of the current economic crisis in the nation and the extenuating conditions in South Carolina the drop in teacher turnover is not that surprising, according to CERRA Executive Director Dr. Gayle Sawyer.

“Fewer teachers choose to retire during tough financial times and districts are trimming the number of positions available. A smaller, but similar decrease in turnover occurred during the 2003-2004 economic downturn,” she said.

Districts reported 296.6 vacancies as of October 1, 2008, for a decrease of 40 percent compared to the 491.1 unfilled positions at the same time in 2007. An even greater reduction occurred for administrative positions where only 24 positions were vacant, 61 percent fewer than the previous year.

Fifteen percent fewer teachers were hired to staff South Carolina schools in 2008. There were 7,159.2 teachers hired, including 1,919 graduates from in-state teacher education programs and 1,841 who transferred districts. In the 8 years of the survey, in-state graduates have accounted for the greatest number of new hires.

Sawyer says that recent discussions with school district personnel officers indicate that the downward hiring spiral will continue and a reduction in education workforce is expected in 2009-2010.

Other highlights from the survey include a 12 percent reduction in the number of teachers who did not return to a classroom in 2008. There were 5,746 teachers who left their position for a number of reasons, including approximately one-quarter who took a position in another school district. Slightly more than 20 percent, or 1,176 teachers, retired.

School districts reported hiring 431 first year teachers through PACE, the South Carolina Department of Education’s Program for Alternative Certification for Educators. Although fewer teachers were hired through PACE for the current school year, the program continues to produce more teachers annually than any single public or private college, as reported by the Commission on Higher Education.

The survey compiles statewide hiring and vacancy data and is designed for widespread use by education decision makers in South Carolina. To access the full reports for the Teacher/Administrator Supply and Demand Survey dating back to 2001, visit the CERRA Web site at www.cerra.org/research.

About the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, & Advancement

CERRA, an independent state agency located on the campus of Winthrop University, is the oldest and most established teacher recruitment program in the country. The purpose of CERRA is to provide leadership in identifying, attracting, placing and retaining well-qualified individuals for the teaching profession in South Carolina. CERRA is a national model and its programs have been adopted at school, district and state levels in more than 30 states in the United States.