Survey Shows Positive Trends and Lingering Effects of COVID in Educator Preparation

(February 2, 2022, Washington, D.C.) – In a fall 2021 survey conducted by AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education), education leaders reported the resumption of in-person instruction and field experiences and some easing of enrollment and budget reductions. In both fall 2020 and 2021, the majority of educator preparation programs reported the pandemic had either no or minimal impact on enrollment (defined as a decline of less than 10%).

AACTE members also reported that state licensing requirements have largely been reinstated—including policies for coursework, observation or practicum, clinical experience, and performance assessment. But some states are creating opportunities for prospective teachers to circumvent the rules, which may negatively affect enrollment in educator preparation programs and exacerbate the current shortage of profession-ready educators in the workforce.

Despite the positive trends, for a sizable minority of institutions, COVID-19 continues to have a significant effect on undergraduate enrollment, budgets, and staffing. In both fall 2020 and fall 2021, 20% of institutions reported that the pandemic resulted in a decline in new undergraduate enrollment of 11% or more. At the graduate level, 13% of fall 2021 respondents reported significant declines in the number of new graduate students due to the pandemic.

This study updates previous AACTE surveys conducted in spring and fall 2020 on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting educator preparation programs. The fall 2021 survey was based on nearly 200 responses from individuals in leadership roles at colleges of education.

“AACTE is committed to collecting and providing updates on this survey data, not only to help our members benchmark against their peers but also to tell the story of the state of teacher preparation to the public, as the pandemic continues to affect the teaching workforce,” says Lynn M. Gangone, AACTE president and CEO. “This report offers an updated data point in preparation for possible shifts related to the Omicron variant, as we continue to compare survey data over time.”

Other key findings include

  • In fall 2020, 45% of respondents had experienced budget cuts of 1 to 10%, and 38% had seen their budgets decline by 11% or more. By fall 2021, 35% of respondents reported their budget was unchanged or increased for 2021–22, and only 13% reported budget cuts exceeding 10%.
  • Reflecting the improved financial picture, the share of respondents reporting staffing reductions declined from 49% in 2020 to 32% in 2021. Nonetheless, it is concerning that one-third of educator preparation programs continue to cut staff.
  • This fall, 58% of respondents held classes completely or primarily in-person and 34% operated under a hybrid model. This is a dramatic change from fall 2020, when 56% were using a hybrid model and 31% were still completely virtual.
  • As PK-12 schools around the county suspended in-person instruction and states adjusted their policies for teacher candidates in spring 2020, nearly all clinical placements occurred virtually and 44% of members reported that at least some of their PK-12 partners had suspended placements entirely. By fall 2021, all respondents had resumed clinical placements, and 80% reported placements occurred in-person.
  • Most members (87%) have created contingency plans to ensure that candidates can complete their programs even if schools have to suspend in-person field placements.

AACTE is committed to ongoing research on the effects of the pandemic on educator preparation. Plans are in place to release the Winter 2022 survey to members in early February, with preliminary results by the Annual Meeting, March 4 – 6, 2022, and final results available later that month.

Access the full report and view the infographic. A summary of the survey findings, presented to AACTE members, is also available.


AACTE: The Leading Voice on Educator Preparation

The AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education) is a national alliance of educator preparation programs and partners dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are profession-ready as they enter the classroom. The over 650 member institutions and strategic partners include public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Through advocacy and capacity building, AACTE promotes innovation and effective practices that strengthen educator preparation. Learn more at

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