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NMSU study finds decrease in New Mexico teacher vacancies, increase in teacher program enrollment

The number of teacher vacancies in New Mexico has decreased 11 percent compared to last year, while the number of admitted students and program graduates in higher education teacher programs have increased, according to the 2020 New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report compiled by the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center at New Mexico State University.


Building photo
According to the 2020 New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report compiled by the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center at New Mexico State University, the number of teacher vacancies in New Mexico has decreased while the number of admitted students and program graduates in higher education teacher programs have increased. The center is housed in the NMSU College of Education. (NMSU photo by Karrie Lucero)

“Despite the pandemic, the same teaching areas and subjects continue to yield the most vacancies, including math, science and English language arts among subject areas of need, and elementary and special education teachers continuing to make up a majority of all teacher vacancies,” said Rachel Boren, director of the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center.

According to the report, there were 889 educator vacancies, with 571 total teacher vacancies. Last year, there were 644 teacher vacancies and 1,054 educator vacancies. Educator vacancies include counselors, administrators, instructional assistants and speech language pathologists.

“This vacancy report is an important tool in helping stakeholders in state education understand its needs within the varying school districts,” said Henrietta Williams Pichon, interim dean of the NMSU College of Education. “This report reminds us that although we are making strides in reducing the number of vacancies in school districts, we still have significant work to do in New Mexico. Let’s hope we keep moving in this positive direction.”

While the total number of vacancies decreased statewide, northwest New Mexico saw an increase in vacancies, with 113 in 2020 compared to 96 in 2019. Northwest New Mexico includes Farmington, Española, Gallup, Grants and the Jemez Valley.

The subjects with the highest needs were math, science, English language arts and music.

The report states that 163 elementary teacher vacancies and 153 special education teacher vacancies combined to make up half of the total teacher need. Last year’s report also indicated these as areas of high need. Within secondary education, the subject with the largest need is math.

Across eight four-year institutions, including NMSU, and four two-year institutions in New Mexico, 1,287 students were admitted to an educator preparation program during the 2019-20 academic year, up 193 students from last year. The study also found 927 students completed an educator program in the 2019-20 academic year, compared to 746 last academic year. There has also been an increase in alternative licensure program enrollment.

The study notes that this year’s vacancy report was prepared as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts both K-12 and higher education, as well as the economy. Schools statewide have seen a drop in K-12 enrollment, which may translate to fewer educator vacancies.

The Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center is housed in the NMSU College of Education. Boren prepared the report using data she collected along with researchers Olivia Dorn, Giovanna Perez and Gopal Tamang.

To download the 2020 New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report, visit http://alliance.nmsu.edu/soar/pubs.