2021 Teacher Spending Survey

How much do teachers spend on supplies?

As a non-profit whose mission is to advance equity in education, AdoptAClassroom.org regularly surveys our teachers. One of the questions we ask often is how much do teachers spend on supplies for their students. Understanding classroom needs directly from teachers helps our community support where we can make the largest impact.

Unfortunately, we discovered that during the 2020/2021 school year teachers are spending more out of pocket on classroom supplies than ever before. Teachers spend an average of $750 of their own money each year so their students can succeed. 

Teachers spend an average of $750 out of pocket on classroom supplies.

We surveyed 5,400 PreK-12 teachers at public, private and charter schools representing all 50 states, Washington D.C., and U.S. territories. 80% of the teachers who responded described their school as high-needs, where 50% or more of students receive free or reduced lunch. 

 

Here are the findings from our 2021 Teacher Spending Survey:

How much do teachers spend on supplies?

  • Teachers spent an average of $750 on school supplies out of pocket during the 2020-2021 school year. The highest amount ever.
  • 30% of teachers spent $1,000 or more on school supplies.
  • Teacher spending has increased 25% since AdoptAClassroom.org first began surveying teachers in 2015

Teacher out of pocket spending has increased.

Students Didn’t Have What They Needed for Distance Learning

  • According to teachers, 55% of students had few or no supplies at home when distance learning began. 
  • 65% of teachers said students were less likely to participate during distance learning because they did not have what they needed. 
  • 55% said they had students who did not engage with their education last school year at all.

55% of teachers said they had students who did not engage with their education last school year at all.

COVID-19 Limited Student Access to Needed Supplies in the Classroom

  • 80% of teachers said students had less access to supplies they needed because they could not share classroom materials. 
  • 70% of teachers said they had to change their lesson plans because they did not have the resources they needed.

80% of teachers said students had less access to supplies they needed because they could not share classroom materials.

Teachers Purchase PPE and Cleaning Supplies for the Classroom

  • To mitigate the impact of COVID-19, teachers spent an average of $160 out of pocket on personal protective equipment and related supplies for their classrooms during the 2020-2021 school year.

Teachers Need Support for a Successful Year

  • 95% of teachers said their classroom supply budget will not be enough to meet their students’ needs. 

95% of teachers said their classroom supply budget will not be enough to meet their students’ needs.

Challenges Teachers Expect this School Year

  • 70% – Getting the supplies needed to create an inclusive classroom for all students.
  • 65% – Helping their students overcome the trauma of COVID-19.
  • 65% – Providing their students with the school supplies they need to learn.
  • 60% – Getting their students who have been disengaged during the pandemic back on track.
  • 65% – Rebuilding and/or improving their school community.
  • 50% – Making up for teacher or staff turnover or shortages at their school.
  • 30% – A lack of training and resources to address racial inequality for their students.

Challenges Teachers Expect this School Year

When it comes to the supplies that would help their students have a successful year, teachers said they needed the following:

Items teachers need for the school year

How much teachers spend on supplies is up to us. Support AdoptAClassroom.org and provide immediate relief to classrooms and schools nationwide so all teachers and students have what they need to succeed. Now more than ever, they need our help.

 

Messages from Teachers About AdoptAClassroom.org’s Impact

Teachers shared in this year’s survey that the support from AdoptAClassroom.org donors helped them meet the needs of their students during a difficult year.

  • “AdoptAClassroom.org made ALL the difference for my students in the 20/21 school year. Truly we could not have had a successful year without this organization!” – Teacher in Oregon
  • “Last year I was lucky enough to receive a grant from AdoptAClassroom and those basic classroom supplies were crucial to the education of my middle school students. It allowed me to purchase items like pencils, markers, colored pencils, and notebooks. But I was also able to purchase science and art supplies to send home so that every student could participate and experience what we were learning about, not just read about it in the textbook. Thank you for making this possible for my middle school students.” – Teacher in California
  • “I want to thank AdoptAClassroom.org and funders for the assistance the past two years.  Through funding, we were able to get technology equipment for a robotics course and STEAM. The students were so excited when we were able to get robots with sensors, since we could not buy them in the past. Their eyes lit up and were so engaged to learn more. It was the best feeling in the world for a teacher to see actual funding go directly to student engagement and learning.” – Teacher in Nevada
  • “I wouldn’t have been able to provide the extra items I felt my students needed without AdoptAClassroom.org and the people who were generous enough to sponsor our classroom. I am forever grateful.” – Teacher in Illinois
  • “Funds from AdoptAClassroom have literally kept learning afloat this past year. I have had to distribute and replace so many materials, such as dry erase boards, dry erase pens, headphones, and books as students transitioned in and out of online, hybrid, and face to face models of instruction.” – Teacher in Ohio
  • “Outside support like AdoptAClassrom.org, teachers will handle what the district cannot. I will have to supply about three students all of their supplies. I do it very discreetly so that it is not noticed. I make sure the parent doesn’t mind. Then I place all of their new unused supplies on their desk.” – Teacher in Tennessee
  • “I used AdoptAClassroom to buy headsets and also purchase books. For many of my students, home can be a tricky place. The headsets made it possible for them to participate in a safe way knowing that background noise would be covered up. Also, my kids read more this year than ever before. I prioritized books by people of color and starring people of color. Finally, students had multiple books with characters like them and stories similar to their own. This boosted reading engagement and brought so much light to a difficult year.” – Teacher in New York
  • “Before the pandemic, AdoptAClassroom.org funders helped offset some of my out-of-pocket costs to get my students ready for school. Since the pandemic has begun, the need for getting students materials is so much more. I am so thankful for the funders of AdoptAClassroom.org that recognize the importance of a child’s education and help teachers, like myself, to provide a quality education to all students regardless of their background. Thank you!” – Teacher in Wisconsin

How much do teachers spend on supplies over time? Read our previous surveys here:

2020 | 2018 | 2015

Are you a teacher in need of school supplies? Register your classroom on AdoptAClassroom.org for the education tools your students need.