Oklahoma’s top education official says the teacher workforce in the state is seeing significant growth. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, 1,751 teachers have been added to classrooms across the state since the 2017-18 school year. The number of Oklahoma teachers has topped 43,000 this school year, according to a Wednesday statement.

“Because of concentrated efforts to attract and retain teachers over the last several years, we can now report that school districts are hiring and more people want to teach in Oklahoma,” said OSDE superintendent Joy Hofmeister. She touted legislative measures that increased average teacher pay by approximately $7,400 per teacher per year.

An analysis of certified teacher numbers in public schools across Carter County this school year found the number mostly unchanged compared to the previous school year. According to data collected by The Ardmoreite, most public school systems in Carter County actually saw emergency certifications hold steady or decline this year.

The number of statewide teachers has seen annual increases since 2017 and average teacher compensation in Oklahoma is now higher than the regional average, according to information released by the OSDE last month. Despite teacher pay raises approved by state lawmakers in the last two legislative sessions, Oklahoma remains near the bottom of per-pupil spending nationwide.

Hofmeister admits that work still needs to be done to reduce class sizes and bolster student learning. “This sustained uptick in [teacher] numbers is a strong indicator that we have begun to reverse course and attract new talent to a profession with unparalleled impact on young lives,” she said.