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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 8, no. 47 (September 18, 2000).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c September 18, 2000
Teacher supply and demand : suprises from primary research / Andrew J. Wayne.
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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1 of 8 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 8 Number 47September 18, 2000ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal Editor: Gene V Glass, College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 2000, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES. Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education Teacher Supply and Demand: Surprises from Primary Research Andrew J. Wayne University of MarylandAbstractAn investigation of primary research studies on pub lic school teacher supply and demand revealed four surprises. Projecti ons show that enrollments are leveling off. Relatedly, annual hir ing increases should be only about two or three percent over the next few y ears. Results from studies of teacher attrition also yield unexpected results. Excluding retirements, only about one in 20 teachers leaves e ach year, and the novice teachers who quit mainly cite personal and f amily reasons, not job dissatisfaction. Each of these findings broaden s policy makers' options for teacher supply. With teacher quality atop local, state, a nd federal agendas, the body of policy research that addresses teacher quality is very muc h in the spotlight. Hopefully some of the knowledge generated by researchers can prove he lpful to policy makers. But to a surprising extent, the research community is not offering policy makers much that they can use. The policy researchers who shape public understanding of the
2 of 8teacher quality issue are now making considerable e fforts to challenge each other's work (e.g., Ballou and Podgursky, 1999, 2000; Darling-Ha mmond, 1999). Although that debate will have salutary effects over the long-ter m, the short-term outlook for lay audiences is confusion over whom to trust. This article attempts to make progress by focusing on questions whose answers depend on more broadly understood analytic tools. I t focuses on teacher supply and demandÂ—only one part of the teacher quality story. But knowledge about supply and demand can help policy makers, and the requisite an alytic tools are so simple that disagreement is unlikely. My examination of the knowledge base on t he supply and demand of public school teachers led to several surprises. Rather th an summarize all that is known, what follows focuses on those points where the common wi sdom is wrong. Each of the four sections below contrasts what primary research stud ies say with what policy makers hear about supply and demand. The original studies come from long-term federal investments in survey research, overseen by the National Center for Education Stati stics (NCES). The NCES is regarded as the most authoritative source of national eviden ce on teacher supply and demand. Its survey methods and analyses are thoroughly document ed, and all of its documents are publicly available at www.nces.ed.gov.Enrollments are Leveling Off Close examination of NCES projections rev eals that enrollments are leveling off. Mischaracterizations of these projections are very common. A recent RAND publication referred to "a dramatic increase in enrollments" ov er the next decade (Kirby, Naftel, and Berends, 1999, p. 1). Combined with teacher retirem ents, says a U.S. Department of Education document, these enrollment increases spel l a "demographic double-whammy" for the schools (U.S. Department of Education, 1998 p. 2). The NCES counts students every year. Actu ally school districts do the counting and report their findings to state governments who, in turn, report numbers to the NCES. The error-checking and compilation process is somew hat time-consuming, so the most recently reported count was for 1998. Those counts show that from 1988 to 1998 enrollments rose 16 percent. Contrast that with what the future holds. According to NCES' s analyses, from 2000 to 2005 enrollments should rise only one percent, and from 2005 to 2010 enrollment should decline, though perhaps negligibly. Census Bureau p opulation projections undergird these estimates (Gerald and Hussar, 2000, p. 12). In other words, the best available projec tion is that a school with 1000 students today will have about 1010 students five years from now The Census Bureau can botch immigration assumptions (Ahlburg, 1993), and, to be sure, national averages are no guide for state policy makers. From 1990 to 1996, f or example, elementary enrollment dropped about six percent in West Virginia and Nort h Dakota, while it increased about 15 percent in California and New Jersey (Gerald and Hussar, 1998, p. 109). But if policy makers expected a wave of children to deluge the na tion's schools, they were misled. Keeping enrollment increases in perspective this wa y helps policy makers understand their options. If the projections are roughly corre ct, the teaching force will hardly need to grow at all. The only growth will derive from decli nes in pupil-teacher ratios. Hiring Will Increase, On Average, Two Percent Per Y ear Over the
3 of 8Next Decade It is true that a wave of retirements is about to hit (Hussar, 1999, p. 10). Policy makers are hearing that these retirementsÂ—combined with already high attrition ratesÂ—will drive hiring needs through the roof. How big is the crunch? For some reason journalists, academics, p olicy wonks, and interest groups offer only an ambiguous answer: the nation will need to h ire 2.2 million public school teachers over the next decade. This ten year totalÂ— admittedly from NCES analysesÂ—does nothing to help policy makers gauge t he problem; they would need to know the number hired in the past decade for compar ison. In most contexts the figure just imparts urgency or draws attention to someone' s proposal. Ironically, a closer read of the NCES projections would permit an even more c aptivating ten year totalÂ—2.5 millionÂ—given predictable drops in the pupil-teache r ratio (Hussar, 1999, p. 35). A much more helpful characterization of h iring needs is possible. The 2.5 million figure is actually the sum of all annual hiring for the next ten years. NCES projection models predict that annual hiring will rise from 21 8,000 in 1999-2000 to 261,000 in 2009-10. During that period, the early increases wi ll somewhat outpace the later ones (Hussar, 1999, p. 35). Thoughtfully developed assum ptions about enrollments, pupil-teacher ratio changes, and teacher attrition drive the projections, but no one would be surprised if the estimates proved wrong by 15,00 0 hires in either direction. Because no one explains NCES projections in terms of annual hiring, policy makers' informants routinely slip up. A prominent f oundation referred to "the projected shortage of 2.2 million teachers" (Milken Family Fo undation, 1999). The more common misinterpretation is that the nation's teacher prep aration institutions must train over two million teachers. Not so. At last count, experience d teachers constituted over one quarter of annual hiring (Hussar, 1999, p. 7). What should the research community tell p olicy makers? Projections lose accuracy quickly with time, so our message ought to be that the next few years probably hold annual hiring increases of two to three percen t. That is about all we can say, for our guesses about how hard the additional hiring will b e are probably no better than policy makers'. Excluding Retirements, About One in 20 Teachers Lea ves Each Year With all the hyperbole, a reasonable legi slator might guess that one in four teachers drops out of the profession every year. Th e hallmark of the teaching profession, they are told, is the "revolving door." John Merrow Â—a prominent and respected education journalistÂ—recently analogized it to "a s wimming pool with a serious leak" and drew the conclusion for policy makers: "We're m isdiagnosing the problem as 'recruitment' when its really 'retention'." (Merrow 1999) The actual data provide a different persp ective. The NCES followed a national sample of over 4,500 teachers from the 1993-94 scho ol year. Only about seven percent of them were not teachers in the 1994-95 school yea r, and two of the seven percent were retirees (Henke et al., 1997, p. A-248). That means that excluding retirements, only about one in 20 teachers leaves each year. And many of these people will return to teaching. Where the same vivid metaphors are applie d to beginning teachers, they still leave the wrong impression. Attrition among teachers with less than four years experience is about nine percent per year (Henke et al., 1997, p. A-248). Admittedly, this adds up. Multiply by four, and it appears that over one-thir d of a beginning cohort will not begin
4 of 8a fifth year. But does this distinguish teaching fr om other professions? A recent Public Agenda Survey found the opposite to be true. Only 1 9 percent of beginning teachers reported expecting to change careers, while fully h alf of college graduates under 30 years of age made the same claim (Farkas, Johnson, and Foleno, 2000, p. 11). Even low-income schools within urban area s exhibit manageable overall attrition rates: 5.7 percent according to the best tabulation of NCES data (Ingersoll, 1999, p. 22). This figure raises serious questions about the assu mptions that currently guide efforts to improve teacher quality for low-income students. It helps to distinguish between teacher a ttrition and teacher mobility. The discussion above focused on the former, but just as many Â—if not moreÂ—teachers change schools every year as leave them. Add in tea chers who change assignments, and over one in four teachers changes status somehow ev ery year (Boe et al., 1998, p. 10). Needless to say, conflating these phenomena would n ot help decision-makers address supply and demand. Novice Teachers Who Quit Rarely Cite Job Dissatisfa ction Evidence notwithstanding, many prefer to assume that novice teachers 'leave in droves' and offer explanations. The Director of the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education recently did so: "Why do t hey drop out? It's mainly because nobody's taking care of them" (Marklein, 1999, p. 6 ). Another explanation policy makers hear is that "substandard training fails to prepare teachers for the demands of the classroom" (Merrow, 1999). Via confidential surveys, the NCES asked teachers who left what the main reason was for their departure. Among departing teachers w ith less than four years experience, 17 percent left involuntarily, mostly due to staffi ng actions. Another 12 percent left to take courses. Only eight percent marked "dissatisfi ed with teaching as a career," though another 17 percent left mainly "to pursue other wor k or better salary" (Boe et al., 1998, p. 32). The missing group: 44 percent of the begi nning teachers who left cited personal and family reasons (Boe et al., 1998, p. 32; see al so Henke et al., 1997, p. A-255). It's possible that many enter teacher education programs precisely because the profession allows for commitment to family responsibilities. S ummer work is definitely optional, and recruiters do not frown on long periods of unem ployment. So if the teaching profession "eats its y oung," it eats only a few. Doing the math above, dissatisfaction and competing careers explai n on the order of only one quarter of novices' departures. Figures like these give real perspective on the policy options for teacher supply. They debunk the exaggerations policy makers current ly hear, that attrition among novices is and will remain unbearably high until (1) schools become more supportive working environments or (2) universities prepare te achers for real classrooms. No doubt those factors matter, but the real numbers show sta te and federal policy makers that substantial leverage is possible via the blunt inst ruments before them. Perhaps a twelve-month calendarÂ—and concomitant salary increa sesÂ—would draw the mainstream labor market into schools. Given good information, we know not to ignore such options. Conclusion My investigation of primary research stud ies on public school teacher supply and demand revealed four major surprises. Basic survey research and demography contradict
5 of 8what many say about enrollments, hiring needs, attr ition, and the loss of novice teachers. If my interpretations are not correct, hopefully th e research community will arrive at better answers reasonably quickly. Readers should beware that although the d iscussion above employed the best available evidence, much of it relied on a national survey last conducted in the 1993-94 school year. State level investigations may turn up different results. Furthermore the 2000 Census and a new NCES survey of the nation's t eachers are both underway and may yield important course corrections. But the contrastÂ—between what our primary research studies say and what policy makers hearÂ—imparts a lasting message for the resea rchers and analysts concerned with teacher quality. What inhibits policy makers' utili zation of the research base on teacher supply and demand is not lack of research, nor is i t disagreements whose resolution requires more technical sophistication than policy makers have. Instead, the problem is neglect. When distortions arise, whether by mistake or because of interest group politics, it is the research community that is supposed to co rrect them. AcknowledgementsI wish to thank Willis Hawley, William Hussar, Dani el Laitsch, and Linda Valli for their feedback on earlier drafts of this paper. The autho r accepts sole responsibility for any errors.ReferencesAhlburg, D. (1993). The Census Bureau's new project ions of the U.S. population. Population and Development Review, 19 (1), 159-174. Ballou, D., & Podgursky, M. (2000, May). Reforming teacher preparation and licensing: Continuing the debate. Teachers College Record http://www.tcrecord.org ID: 10524. Ballou, D., & Podgursky, M. (1999, October 13). Ref orming teacher preparation and licensing: What is the evidence? Teachers College Record http://www.tcrecord.org ID: 10418.Boe, E. E., Bobbit, S. A., Cook, L. H., Barkanic, G ., & Maisling, G. (1998). Teacher turnover in eight cognate areas: National trends an d predictors. Philadelphia, PA: Center for Research and Evaluation in Social Policy, Unive rsity of Pennsylvania. Darling-Hammond, L. (1999, October 13). Reforming t eacher preparation and licensing: Debating the evidence. Teachers College Record http://www.tcrecord.org ID 10419. Farkas, S., Johnson, J., & Foleno, T. (2000). A sense of calling: Who teaches and why New York, NY: Public Agenda.Gerald, D. E., & Hussar, W. J. (1998). Projections of education statistics to 2008. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Natio nal Center for Education Statistics.Gerald, D. E., & Hussar, W. J. (2000). Projections of education statistics to 2010.
6 of 8 Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Natio nal Center for Education Statistics.Henke, R. R., Choy, S. P., Chen, X., Geis, S., & Al t, M. N. (1997). America's teachers: Profile of a profession, 1993-94. Washington, DC: U .S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.Hussar, W. J. (1999). Predicting the need for newly hired teachers in the United States to 2008-09. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Educati on, National Center for Education Statistics.Ingersoll, R. M. (1999). Teacher turnover, teacher shortages, and the organization of schools. Seattle, WA: Center for the Study of Teach ing and Policy, University of Washington.Kirby, S. N., Naftel, S., & Berends, M. (1999). Sta ffing at-risk school districts in Texas: Problems and prospects. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.Marklein, M. B. (1999, October 13). Teaching of tea chers evolves to raise standards. USA Today p. D6. Merrow, J. (1999, October 6). The teacher shortage: Wrong diagnosis, phony cures. Education Week Milken Family Foundation. (1999, June 18). Poll rev eals high school students saying "no" to teaching careers. Retrieved October 15, 199 9 from the World Wide Web: http://www.mff.org/newsstory.taf?page=72. U.S. Department of Education. (1998). Promising practices: New ways to improve teacher quality Washington, DC: Author.About the AuthorAndrew WayneAndrew Wayne is a doctoral candidate in social poli cy at the University of Maryland, College Park. His forthcoming dissertation is entit led Federal policies to improve teacher quality for low-income students.Update: June 2001Andrew Wayne works at SRI International in the Cent er for Education Policy. He can be reached at (703) 247-8491 or by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org i.comCopyright 2000 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is epaa.asu.edu General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, email@example.com or reach him at College
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