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NEA Highlights Teaching Trends



With the celebrations of National Teacher Day as a backdrop, the National Education Association (NEA) is revealing shifts in the teaching profession found through 50 years of research.

The NEA finds that the teaching profession has changed dramatically over the past 50 years and as part of its annual National Teacher Day celebration, the group highlighted key trends in the teaching profession.

“Each year on National Teacher Day we thank the nation’s hard-working public school educators and take time out to reflect on the future of the teaching profession,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “This year, we’re highlighting 50 years of NEA research on the nation’s public school teachers, including survey research from the Status of the Public School Teacher collected and analyzed since 1961.”

The trends identified by the NEA that have played a critical role in shaping the teaching profession include:

Changes in the workforce and the student population

There are 3,232,813 teachers in K-12 public schools. About 16 percent of these positions become vacant each year.

Forty-five percent of new teachers abandon the profession in their first five years.

There’s a growing demographic divide between America’s predominantly white teaching force and an increasingly diverse student body, and the proportion of women teachers continues to rise.

Nearly 40 percent of teachers entering America’s classrooms today are coming from other careers.

Changes in working conditions and school environments

More teachers believe collaborating with colleagues is essential to their work, but many districts still don’t provide time for teachers to learn, share and collaborate.

Nearly all classrooms (97 percent) have one or more computers, but half of the nation’s teachers say they need training to better integrate technology into classroom instruction—and such support is unevenly distributed across schools.

Newer teachers put a high premium on exploring new roles and taking on new responsibilities in order to expand career options.

Teachers’ salaries still lag behind those for other occupations requiring a college degree, and the pay gap is growing larger.

Changes in teacher training, licensure and evaluation

Nearly one-quarter of school districts do not require new teachers to have certification for what they are teaching.

Teachers themselves are less positive today than in the past about the education and training they have received.

The proportion of teachers holding master’s degrees has more than doubled over roughly the last 50 years, from 24 percent in 1955 to 52 percent in 2007.

“In the U.S. there is a common belief that ‘anybody can teach,’” said Van Roekel. “Rather than help dispel this perception, too many colleges of education offer mediocre teacher preparation programs that lack academic rigor and frequently fail to provide real-world, practical experience. Some new teachers are thrust into classrooms with almost no preparation whatsoever.”

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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