New York State Certification, Professional Development
May 22, 2017

Fact Sheet 17-8: Teacher Shortage in New York State

Source: NYSUT Research and Educational Services
Share This Article...

In the past few years there has been increased attention paid to a national teacher shortage.  While estimates regarding the severity of the shortage vary, there is consensus that demand for teachers is on the rise.  The US Department of Education (USDOE) had estimated that 1.6 million new teachers would be needed nationally between 2012 and 2022, and a recent report by the Learning Policy Institute estimated the number at 300,000 new teachers per year by 2020.

Similar to national projections, estimates for new teachers in New York fall within a range, from 10,000 new teachers to 18,000 annually.  The increased demand for new teachers reflects trends in teacher retirements, expected increases in P-12 enrollments, fewer individuals entering the profession, and rates of teacher attrition.  Available data indicates that New York will experience a teacher shortage in the near future, and in many parts of the state the shortage has already manifested itself.


According to the 2016 NYS Teacher Retirement System (TRS) Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (June 2015), there were over 50,000 active TRS members over the age of 55.  In addition, there were almost 35,000 active TRS members between the ages of 50-54.  Within the next five years, nearly one-third of the active members could be eligible to retire.


With many veteran teachers on the verge of retirement, recruiting students with the academic and personal qualities that are associated with successful teaching has become increasingly urgent.  Unfortunately, teacher education programs in New York State are still dealing with the impact of the Great Recession: sharp declines in state revenue that resulted in massive layoffs and graduates of teacher education programs facing one of the worst job markets in recent history.  This legacy, coupled with changes to working conditions, certification requirements, and increased demands on teachers have all contributed to the declining attractiveness of a career in teaching. 

Since 2009-2010, enrollment in teacher education programs in New York State have decreased by roughly 49%, from over 79,000 students in 2009-10 to just over 40,000 students in 2014-15.

Active Members in the New York State Teachers Retirement Service


The USDOE, Office of Postsecondary Education provides annual lists of teacher shortage areas.  For 2016-17, identified shortage areas for the entire state include:

  • Bilingual Education (General)
  • Career and Technical Education
  • Special Education, Middle and Secondary
  • Special Education, Bilingual

For New York City, identified shortage areas include:

  • Dance
  •  Health Education
  •  English
  •  Music
  •  Sciences
  •  Reading/Literacy
  •  Visual Arts
  •  Bilingual Education
  •  Special Education, Middle & Secondary
  •  Theatre
  •  Language other than English
  •  Special Education, Elementary

For the Big Four city school districts, identified shortage areas include:

  • Career and Technical Education
  • Bilingual Education
  • Special Education, All Grades

In the previous 5 year period, the USDOE had also identified shortages in New York in:

  • Earth Science
  • Languages other than English
  • Business & Marketing
  • Physics
  • Family & Consumer Sciences
  • ESOL

In addition, anecdotal evidence is growing that demonstrates that teacher shortages already exist in other certificate titles, with a growing number of examples where more rural districts are experiencing difficulty attracting appropriately certified individuals.  


GJ/mc -104438

NYSUT Footer
Our Voice, Our Values, Our Union