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What the Data Says: K-12 Hiring During COVID-19

Recruiting & Hiring

Eight weeks. That’s how long it’s been since the President declared a National Emergency on March 13, calling for measures to fight COVID-19. The following days brought restrictions and stay-at-home orders in nearly every state.

You’ve seen the bad (overwhelmed ERs, stratospheric unemployment) and the good (schools providing lunches, cheers for medical workers). You’ve probably become accustomed to wearing a mask. You’ve made tough decisions about schooling — and more tough decisions lie ahead. At a time when the teacher shortage already makes it difficult for many districts to fill open positions, some fear that this year could be even worse if large numbers of experienced teachers decide to exit the field once schools reopen in the fall.

The stakes are high, and it’s never been more important to make data-driven decisions about hiring for your schools. So today, we’re looking at data from the Frontline Research & Learning Institute to see what can be learned about how this crisis is impacting districts and job-seekers in K-12.

In the charts below, “Week 11” refers to the 11th week of 2020: Sunday, March 8 through Saturday, March 14. This appears to be the last week of relatively normal applicant data — not surprising, as it corresponds with the Declaration of National Emergency. Depending on where you live, schools and businesses also began sending people home around this time.

Above, we can see that up through Week 11, the number of 2020 job applicants in Frontline Recruiting & Hiring and K12JobSpot tracks closely with prior years. Beginning in Week 12, the number drops noticeably. Did job seekers simply stop applying for jobs at that time?

Looking at the average number of applicants per district, the same trends appear: job seekers applied in similar numbers to 2018 and 2019 through Week 11, and there is a sharp dip in Week 12 — the very week that in prior years saw a notable increase.

Again, this was around the time schools and businesses closed and states began issuing stay-at-home orders. Were applicants reluctant to go out in public to interview? Did districts decide to limit the number of applicants? Did applicant pools simply dry up?

At least part of the answer seems to be that beginning in Week 12, districts as a whole posted fewer jobs than they did in prior years.

That’s a noticeable shift from 2018 and 2019, and the line correlates with how many districts posted jobs — a number that also declined in Week 12 and remains lower than the previous two years.

However — and this is where it gets interesting — it appears that not all districts are responding to the crisis in the same way. Districts as a whole posted fewer jobs, and fewer districts posted jobs, but those districts who were hiring were doing so at similar rates to the past two years:

We can see even more noteworthy data when we look at the number of jobs filled.

Although there was a slight dip in Week 12, the trend bounced back and is now at similar levels to previous school years. Fewer districts were posting jobs, fewer jobs were posted, but roughly the same number of jobs were filled compared to 2018 and 2019.

And (drumroll, please) take a look at the average number of days it takes to fill jobs posted:

2020 appears to be an anomaly, and since the beginning of the year the average days to fill have been lower than previous years, so it’s unlikely COVID-19 is responsible for that trend. However, it’s interesting that in Week 11 the average time to fill drops even faster than before.

How job applicants are faring during the COVID-19 shutdown

Applicants to jobs at school districts have noticed the change as well. An overwhelming majority of respondents to a survey on K12JobSpot (data collected between April 6 and April 21) said that COVID-19 has impacted their job search.

Has your job search been affected by COVID-19?

The “why” is especially compelling. When asked “How has our job search been affected by COVID-19?” more than half of respondents said that districts have delayed or frozen hiring. Others noted challenges presented by physical distance, uncertainty, loss of a job or job opportunity, or said that they are looking for remote work.

How has your job been affected by COVID-19?

How has hiring gone for you?

What have you noticed about hiring in your school system since states began shutting down? Take our instant poll and let us know your experience.

Kevin Agnello

Kevin is a Data Analytics Engineer for Frontline Education. He is a former high school mathematics teacher and holds a Master's Degree in Educational Curriculum and Instruction, a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology, and is working on a dissertation toward a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.