Apr 5, 2023 - News

Virginia's provisional teacher surge

Illustration of a "help wanted" sign with multiple exclamation points and the words "no, seriously"

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Virginia's schools are relying more heavily on educators with provisional licenses and those teaching outside of their field of study amid post-pandemic teacher shortages.

Driving the news: The number of provisionally licensed teachers increased 24% during the 2021–22 school year compared to the state's pre-pandemic average, per a report from Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, the Virginia Mercury reports.

  • Meanwhile, the number of "out of field" teachers in Virginia doubled in the same period.

Why it matters: Educators who haven't completed the full course work to be licensed or trained are less effective, JLARC wrote in its report.

Virginia teachers have been leaving the field at significantly higher rates since the pandemic because of low wages and a more challenging student population.

  • Provisionally licensed teachers are one of the ways the state has bridged the teacher gap.

Zoom in: Prior to the pandemic, Virginia issued an average of 6,787 provisional licenses a year. For the 2021–22 school year, it was 8,434.

  • "Out of field" educators account for 6.2% of teachers in the 2021–22 school year, up from an average of 2.4% pre-pandemic.

Smaller districts, like Franklin City, Surry and Halifax are among those that saw the biggest increases in using provisional or "out of field" teachers, per JLARC.

By the numbers: In the Richmond area, Chesterfield County saw the biggest increase in the use of provisionally licensed teachers, jumping by 4% over its pre-pandemic average, while Henrico saw a 2% increase. Richmond and Hanover stayed basically flat, per JLARC.

Data: JLARC; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: JLARC; Chart: Axios Visuals

What we're watching: The Department of Education launched campaigns to recruit new teachers, and JLARC is working on a study on teacher retention due this fall, Virginia Mercury reports.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Richmond.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Richmond stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Richmond.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more