AUSTIN (KXAN) — As a new school year begins, Texas is reeling from a record number of teacher resignations. While leaders and districts look for solutions to combat recruitment and retention challenges, some worry classrooms may continue to be left without qualified educators.

But what’s really behind the shortage? To find out, we obtained thousands of exit surveys detailing why teachers left and the impact it has on students.

Click here to explore our interactive story.

Go directly to each chapter in this investigation by using the links below:

KXAN Investigators obtained these exit forms from hundreds of Austin ISD teachers who quit their jobs in the middle of the school year since the pandemic began, and similar data from several other districts across the state, revealing how inflation, stagnant salaries and last-minute legislative mandates led to state-wide teacher shortages. It spoke to teachers, districts and lawmakers about the current situation — and what can be done to fix it.