More than 98 Percent of Public Schools Made Concerted Efforts to Promote Pandemic-Related Learning Recovery During the 2021-22 School Year

Before next school year, public schools report the need to hire three teachers, on average, with special education vacancies among the most prevalent for all school levels.

Public school leaders estimated that half of their students (50 percent) began the 2021-22 school year behind grade level in at least one academic subject, according to data released  by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the statistical center of the U.S. Department of Education. Of schools that reported having students behind grade level in at least one academic subject, 64 percent believed that the COVID-19 pandemic played a major role in students beginning this school year behind grade level.

“Over the course of the 2021-22 school year, public schools reported a 14-point reduction in the percentage of students behind grade level in at least one subject,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “We will learn more about student achievement and learning experiences in schools with our next release of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) later this year.”

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More than 98 percent of public schools employed strategies to support pandemic-related learning recovery during the 2021-22 school year. The most common types of additional instruction enacted to support learning recovery were remedial instruction (72 percent) and high-dosage tutoring (56 percent). More than three-quarters of public K-12 schools (79 percent) used diagnostic assessments, followed by formative assessments (76 percent). Of the peripheral supports offered by schools, the most common addressed students’ mental health and trauma (72 percent).

Public schools continue to support learning recovery this summer, with 75 percent offering learning and enrichment programs run by the school or district and 70 percent offering summer school, among other traditional summer program offerings. Around one-third of public schools offering these programs reported increasing the amount of summer programming they offered specifically to support pandemic-related learning recovery.

As of June, the average public school has three teaching positions to fill for the upcoming 2022-23 school year. In elementary schools, general elementary openings are the most prevalent, with 51 percent of schools reporting a vacancy in this area. For middle and high schools, special education openings were the most prevalent, with 54 and 51 percent of schools reporting a vacancy in this area, respectively.

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“In January 2022, public schools identified special education as the teaching position with the most vacancies,” said Mark Schneider, IES Director. “The data released today suggest that filling special education openings will continue to be an area of concern at the start of the 2022-23 school year.”

The findings released today are part of the seventh monthly experimental data product from the School Pulse Panel. The June data were collected from 859 participating schools between June 14 and June 28, 2022.

The School Pulse Panel is part of NCES’s innovative approach to delivering timely information regarding the pandemic’s impact on public K-12 schools in the U.S. The June survey provides data focused on learning recovery, summer learning, staff vacancies, learning modes offered by schools, and student and staff quarantine prevalence, as reported by school staff in U.S. public schools.

Experimental data products are innovative statistical products created using new data sources or methodologies. Experimental data may not meet all NCES quality standards but are of sufficient benefit to data users in the absence of other relevant products to justify release. NCES clearly identifies experimental data products upon their release.

The August data collection will focus on a review of the hiring process that occurred this summer, after-school program offerings for the 2022-23 school year, and services provided in community school/wraparound service models.

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