Cover: Staffing, Budget, Politics, and Academic Recovery in Districts

Staffing, Budget, Politics, and Academic Recovery in Districts

Selected Findings from the Fall 2023 American School District Panel Survey

Published Mar 14, 2024

by Melissa Kay Diliberti, Heather L. Schwartz

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Research Question

  1. What are U.S. school districts experiencing with regard to staffing, budgeting, the politicization of schooling, and academic recovery efforts?

Since its launch in the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the American School District Panel (ASDP) has been used to monitor timely topics in kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) public education. Over time, ASDP surveys have coalesced around four key challenges that U.S. public school districts face today: school staffing, budgeting, the politicization of schooling, and academic recovery efforts. In this Data Note, authors provide a brief update on these four challenges using data from the fall 2023 ASDP survey. The survey included seven questions on these topics, and the findings of each question are briefly discussed.

Key Findings

  • Districts estimated that 9 percent of their teachers retired or resigned in the 2022–2023 school year. The district-reported turnover rate was on par with that of the previous school year but remained above the turnover rate reported before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Staffing shortages have abated from pandemic-era highs, but teacher shortages remain prevalent for substitutes and special education teachers.
  • About one-quarter of districts foresee a drop in revenues of at least 5 percent for the 2024–2025 school year.
  • Although it is declining, political polarization about race- and gender-related topics continues to interfere with schooling in about four in ten districts.
  • Five percent of districts have disciplined educators for violating policies that restrict discussions about race, gender, or sexuality in the classroom since the start of the 2020–2021 school year.
  • Districts believed tutoring, summer programming, and academic interventionists were the best interventions for helping students recover academically from the pandemic.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and conducted by RAND Education and Labor.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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