As the nation recovers from the effects of the pandemic, this is a critical time to support schools and the teachers that will lead Nebraska’s students into the future, according to the Nebraska Department of Education.

Every year the department conducts a survey to determine Nebraska teacher shortages and what the district did to address those shortages. Shortage areas in Nebraska are reported to the U.S. Department of Education for the next academic year and are used for federal loan forgiveness.

This year, 402 public and nonpublic school districts and Educational Service Units responded to the survey, up from 324 in 2021. The number of unfilled positions, positions that were either left vacant or filled by someone other than a fully qualified teacher, was up significantly from 482 in 2021 to 768 positions in 2022. The number of positions left vacant also rose from 68 in 2021 to 208 in 2022.

The state department of education is working to expand the recruitment of quality teachers and help districts retain the teachers they already have. Last April, the educator pipeline grant was introduced to address immediate shortages, provide funding and develop partnerships to address long-term educator shortages. A total of 15 grants worth almost $1.6 million were awarded across the state.

The department also has invested an additional $300,000 in the past year into Educators Rising, an organization that helps make sure teachers have the experience and skills they need to be ready for the classroom. Starting with high school students, the program provides hands-on teaching experience, helps sustain student interest in the profession and helps students cultivate the skills they need to be successful educators.

Along with those recent investments, the department has many programs aimed at recruitment, preparation and retention of quality teachers. The Attracting Excellence to Teaching Program (AETP) provides forgivable loans to students who are enrolled in teacher education programs at eligible Nebraska institutions. Other programs aim to help new teachers enter career and technical education programs. Also, websites are dedicated to helping pair new teachers with opportunities at schools around the state, and programs are dedicated to helping blind and visually impaired teachers.

The department also is working on rule revisions that would help more students complete the necessary coursework to obtain teaching certificates and provide more alternate pathways into the teaching profession.

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Want to learn more?

Learn more about the programs offered at education.ne.gov, and the full teacher vacancy survey is available at www.education.ne.gov/educatorprep/teacher-shortage-survey/.

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