There’s no shortage of information and data about public education in Oklahoma. Please use the information on this page as a resource for important conversations about public education. If you’d like to see additional data added to this page, please contact Christy Watson.
Most of the data is from the National Center for Education Statistics or the state Education Department unless otherwise noted.
Oklahoma has experienced tremendous public school enrollment growth since the early 1990s.
Growth in Student Needs
As Oklahoma’s student population has grown, so have the needs of students and the necessity of schools to adapt to meet these needs.
National Center for Education Statistics, 1992-2014 *ELL data available since 1998
Oklahoma’s neighboring states invest substantially more in common education on a per-student basis. Oklahoma would have to invest nearly $1.3 billion more annually to reach the regional average per-student spending.
Education Investment Gap
Oklahoma Education Funding: 2008-2018
Common Education Share of the State Budget
Administrative Costs, Staffing & Shared Services
Are Oklahoma’s schools top heavy? That’s not what data shows. Oklahoma administrators are responsible for more students than most of their peers in other states. In fact, schools have adjusted staffing to meet new mandates and the growing needs of students.
By the Numbers
- Oklahoma ranks 44th nationally on per-student administration spending.
- Oklahoma has the highest student-to-administrator ratio in the region.
- Oklahoma’s student-to-administrator ratio is 42nd nationally.
- Oklahoma could hire 300 more administrators and still not reach the national average.
- All administration includes superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals and assistant principals.
By the Numbers
- Oklahoma’s district student-to-administrator ratio is 43rd the nation and 40 percent higher than the national average.
- Oklahoma has the highest district student-to-administrator ratio in the region.
- Since 1992, the number of district-level administrators has fallen 15 percent.
- District administration includes superintendents and assistant superintendents.
By the Numbers
- The school-level student-to-administrator ratio is higher than the regional and national averages.
- Since 1992, Oklahoma has experienced growth in the number of principals and assistant principals.
- Oklahoma’s per-student spending on school-level administrators is lower than the regional and national averages.
- School administration includes principals and assistant principals.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
- There are fewer district-level administrators despite additional mandates.
- With the growth in students receiving free lunch, English language learners and children with special needs, schools have had no choice but to add additional employees to provide support.
- The largest area of staffing growth comes in two areas: instructional aides and support staff who provide direct services to students, including speech pathologists, audiologists and social workers.
- Schools also face many more mandates — particularly in the area of testing — than they did in 1992 that have required growth in some non-teaching areas.
- Enrollment increases in pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten also have increased the need for instructional aides.
Data Source: National Center for Education Statistics
Many school districts are cooperating to offer expanded services for students and obtain efficiencies.
- More than 130 districts use shared treasurer services and/or obtain these services via a local financial institution.
- 375 districts cooperate to offer student services in areas including special education, English language learners, alternative education, professional development and counseling.
- Fourteen school districts are using shared superintendents.
- More than 100 superintendents have additional job duties.
Oklahoma teacher pay is lowest in the region and near the lowest in the country, contributing to the state’s historic teacher shortage. In the last three years, Oklahoma has approved more than 2,600 emergency teaching certificates, leaving tens of thousands of Oklahoma students with underprepared, underqualified teachers.
Regional Average Teacher Salaries
Source: National Education Association, May 2018 (2017 average teacher salary)
The brown column is the estimated average teacher salary after the 2018-2019 certified employee pay raise.
Emergency Teaching Certificates
Source: State Board of Education meeting agendas
*Through January 2019
Teacher Shortage Facts
- Districts reported 536 teaching vacancies as of Aug. 1, 2018.
- Districts have eliminated 480 teaching positions since last school year.
- The state Board of Education has issued a record number of emergency teaching certificates this year.
- Special education, elementary, high school science, high school math and middle school math are the most difficult teaching positions to fill.
- 11 out of every 100 Oklahoma teachers leave the state or the profession every year.
- 17% of new teachers in Oklahoma leave the state or the profession after their first year.
- 10% of Oklahoma teachers with a decade of experience leave the state or profession every year.
- Oklahoma is replacing experienced teachers who leave with teachers who are far less experienced.
- Between 2005-2006 and 2013-2014, Oklahoma had a 24 percent decline in the number of students completing teacher preparation programs. Research has projected that it will further decline 22 percent between 2013-14 and 2018-19. (Student enrollment is projected to continue increasing).
- Oklahoma is not producing enough foreign language, math or science teachers to replace those who are leaving.
- The projected demand for teachers in Oklahoma will continue to outpace the supply.
- Oklahoma has significant competition from the private sector and from surrounding states.
- A high percentage of out-of-state students (76%) who completed teacher preparation programs in Oklahoma in recent years never worked in Oklahoma’s public schools.
- Oklahoma’s special education student-to-teacher ratio is almost 23:1.
Sources: OSSBA, State Department of Education. An Empirical Analysis of Teacher Salaries and Labor Market Outcomes in Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education