Majority of K-12 Parents Concerned With Teacher Shortages This Back-to-School Season, Qualtrics Study Shows
Last updated: September 12, 2023
Nearly two-thirds of parents say they are concerned about their school’s ability to provide qualified educators
Reading and writing improved year over year while learning gaps for math and social development grew
PROVO, Utah & SEATTLE (Sept. 12, 2023) – As the school year begins, an increasing share of U.S. parents are concerned about their children’s education and experience at school. More than half of parents (56%) say they are concerned that teachers are burned out to the point that it will adversely affect their child’s education, according to the 2023 Back-to-School Study from Qualtrics. Additionally, 45% expect to transport their children to school more often than in previous years because of bus driver shortages. Amid a national teacher shortage, 65% of parents report being concerned about their school’s ability to provide qualified educators.
Teacher and staff experience have a ripple effect on the student experience, especially in K-12 education, where enrollment numbers determine funding and resources. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public K-12 schools lost more than one million students from fall 2019 to fall 2020. Qualtrics asked over 1,000 U.S. parents of children in grades K-12 how their children’s educational experience has been impacted by teacher and staff shortages.
Barriers exist to school resources
A higher share of parents this year report problems with the mental health resources at school, up 10 percentage points year-over-year, to 74%. The top challenges reported were families not knowing what’s available and only short-term treatment being available.
Although the percentage of parents who said they feel their children are “very safe” rose to 35% in 2023, there was no change year-over-year in the share of parents who said that they have either had their children change schools or considered doing so due to safety concerns (46%).
Parents said they were most worried about bullying (41%), school shootings (35%), exposure to drugs (12%) and COVID (6%). These findings indicate a shift in conversations around school safety over the past year. In 2022, the top three safety concerns were school shootings, bullying and COVID.
Students who fell behind during the pandemic are catching up
The Qualtrics research also found that just about half (48%) of parents reported that their child fell behind during the pandemic, compared to 56% last year. Of those parents, 30% said that their children are six months or more behind in school – a drop of seven percentage points year over year. The data indicates more students are catching up after pandemic-related school closures and remote learning.
Parents report students struggling the most in math (41%), reading and writing (24%), and social development (24%). A larger share of parents in 2023 report that their kids are behind in math (up three percentage points) and in social development (up one percentage point) compared with a year earlier. And while reading and writing have improved year over year by four percentage points, nearly one-quarter (23%) of parents said that they are concerned about book restrictions or “book bans” at their school.
“Teacher burnout negatively impacts the student experience and the quality of education, and it has a harmful snowball effect on K-12 enrollment and funding,” said Carlos Bortoni, industry advisor for K-12 education at Qualtrics. “K-12 school leaders need to listen to their teachers, staff and communities at this crucial time to understand and fix the underlying causes of burnout, including improvements to school climate, staffing numbers and resources. We must do better for our teachers and our students.”
This study was fielded between August 11 and August 18, 2023. Respondents were selected from a randomized panel and considered eligible if they live in the United States, are at least 18 years of age and have a child who will be enrolled in grades K-12 during the 2023-24 school year. The total number of respondents was 1,000. Respondents who did not pass quality standards were removed.
About Qualtrics XM for Education
With over 20 years of experience in education, Qualtrics now serves over 1,000 education institutions across K-12 and Higher Education around the world—including 99 of the top 100 business schools and over half of the top 50 U.S. school districts—helping them understand and improve the experiences they deliver. Qualtrics solutions are purpose-built to help leaders in education understand experiences across departments, take the right actions to attract and retain students and staff, and increase engagement and success. Qualtrics® XM® for Education solutions uncover unique insights into the student journey and empower school leaders to close experience gaps—driving increases in enrollment, retention, and graduation.
Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, is a cloud-native software provider that empowers organizations to deliver exceptional experiences and build deep relationships with their customers and employees – so they can understand their greatest friction points, retain and engage top talent, and deliver the right products and services. Nearly 20,000 organizations around the world use Qualtrics’ advanced AI to listen, understand, and take action. Qualtrics uses its vast universe of experience data to form the largest database of human sentiment in the world. Qualtrics is co-headquartered in Provo, Utah and Seattle. To learn more, please visit qualtrics.com.