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The Recruitment and Preparation of Teachers: Part 1 -- The Teacher Shortage


by Karen Zumwalt - October 15, 2000

(Editorís Note: This is a transcript of the lecture delivered. The text is not revised.)

Gary Natriello:

Tonight, we are delighted to have with us, to talk about the topic of teachers and teaching and teacher preparation, Karen Zumwalt, and I have some little-known facts about Professor Zumwalt that I can share with you. Professor Zumwalt began her interest in teaching and teachers as the treasurer of the Future Teachers of America group at her high school.

Karen Zumwalt:

Great Neck South.

Gary Natriello:

Great Neck South, for those - anyone from Great Neck? Okay. But she never took an education course in college, and instead, majored in political science, and then went to work for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights after college, but somewhere, shortly after that, decided that she could do more to contribute to social justice by being a teacher than a lawyer, and then enrolled for the MAT program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, to prepare as a social studies teacher. And then, taught junior high school in inner-city Cleveland, and then tried to teach in inner-city Chicago after she got married, but couldn't get certified, because she had not majored in history, although she was certified as a social studies teacher in Massachusetts, Ohio, New York, and Illinois, and you'll see this all fits in with tonight's topic. So she ended up teaching in the New Trier district, which, for those of you who don't know the Midwest, is like Scarsdale. And then she became a teacher-educator at Smith College, and then came to Teachers College to run the elementary-middle school pre-service program, went on to become chair of the department of Curriculum and Teaching, and most recently, dean of the College. And we are delighted to have her with us tonight, to talk about teaching and teachers.

Karen Zumwalt:

Thank you, Gary. Is this all right? [applause] For those of you who watch "Big Brother," I have a feeling that - this feels very much like it. Last week, I was reminded of the worst nightmare that doctoral students have when they're writing their dissertation, and that is, that one day they go into the library, and they find that somebody has written their exact same dissertation. Well, last week when I opened my mail, and saw Newsweek, "Who Will Teach Our Kids?" I had somewhat of the same feeling, before I read it. So what I'd like to start with is, just find out from you, how many of you, from what you've read in the press, heard on TV, read - I wanted to show Professor Natriello, this is what you were required to read for this, tonight. I was very impressed.

Gary Natriello:

Very _______.

Karen Zumwalt:

I, I - must be. How many of you feel that we have, or are going to face a teacher shortage? Just raise your hand, just so I get a sense of the group. How many don't think there's going to be a teacher shortage? Okay. So, either you're neutral about it, or one person doesn't think so. Okay - or you think there's going to a be a teacher shortage. Now, all you have to do is - be awake in the last year, and you have gotten huge samples of what the solution to this problem is. So, what I want to start with is just get some sense of what are the range of these solutions that you've heard about. You don't have to support them, but what are the kind of things that you've heard about? Gary, get up. We're going to get you running around. Anybody. Yes?

Student:

The program in New York, where you've got, like, two weeks of training, and then, in a year's time, be certified -

Karen Zumwalt:

Okay -

Student:

Or you could be -

Student:

You know, from the business world or from another sector of society. I guess it's sort of like a School of Ed boot camp, and then you're trained and you're certified within a year. Okay. That's what it's called, fast-track -

Karen Zumwalt:

Fast-track alternative route. The New York one is a little different than most alternative routes, and we'll talk about that later. Yes?

Student:

I think there's a program called Teach for America -

Karen Zumwalt:

That - yeah. Teach for America. In fact, we have some people in the class who've worked for them or been a teacher of America. That's an alternate route to teaching; it's not the regular route to teaching. Yes?

Student:

So would that be the same as emergency credentialing?

Karen Zumwalt:

Okay, emergency credentials. Emergency licenses, let's call them. The alternate, or fast-track is actually a program to help people quickly learn about teaching. Emergency license is when they can't find anybody, and they just hire warm bodies off the street. Okay, those have both been solutions. Back there?

Student:

I just heard about retired, or incentives to get people who have retired, back into teaching.

Karen Zumwalt:

Okay. That was one within the last two weeks. And the way they would do that would be, that they would let them come back at full pay, but also collect their pension, at the same time, which you can't collect a pension and have a job. Others? Teacher shortage crisis solutions. Yes?

Student:

Well, increasing the pay -

Karen Zumwalt:

Okay. Any others? Yes, right here.

Student:

Offering to pay college graduates' loans -

Karen Zumwalt:

Okay, college - college scholarships, in some cases, and forgivable loans in other cases. For those who are going to teach, or those who were going to teach in high-needs schools. Way back there, Gary.

Student:

Hiring from other professional sectors.

Karen Zumwalt:

Okay. So let's just put that - that's usually through the alternative route, but let's just say, recruiting others who haven't prepared to teach. Mid-career people, often. Retired military people. Ooh, I wrote - ooh, I am writing on the screen. You have my wet rag, where are you? Okay. Yes.

Student:

The other one is introduction of merit pay.

Karen Zumwalt:

Okay, merit pay. So, not just increased salaries for everybody, but give people who are doing well more pay, and then they - want to attract it to teaching. Yes.

Student:

Signing bonuses?

Karen Zumwalt:

What?

Student:

Signing bonuses.

Karen Zumwalt:

Signing bonuses. That's been popular this year. $20,000 up to $20,000 to go into teaching in Massachusetts. Don't leave now. [laughter] Yes. One more.

Student:

I know there's one in California, they have incentives for real estate, if you teach in certain districts.

Karen Zumwalt:

They have housing allowances, and actually, they're building in one city in California, housing for teachers. Okay, these are just - maybe a small number of solutions that people have brought forth to the teaching shortage issue. What I'm going to do tonight is try to frame the issue for you, who are in a policy course at a graduate school, and try to unpack it, get beyond the surface of what we read in Newsweek, and what we read in the newspaper and of these ideas. I'm going to - so, I'm going to sort of divide this section into four sections.

The first, looking at, is there a shortage, and what is the nature of that problem. The second section we'll look at: if the issue is not quantity but quality, how is quality measured and how is that related to student learning. And all these are backgrounds to the sort of major policy piece that has shaped the reform agenda, and that is the NCTAF report. National Council for Teaching and America's Future. And that's, that's the fattest one in here, and it takes hours to download, so I would suggest you go down to the first floor of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future and buy a copy if you haven't already downloaded it. And then, fourth, I want to look at the role that research can play in some of the controversial issues, how we measure quality, and then take a couple of issues, depending on how much time we have, alternate routes, accreditation teacher testing, grading, colleges of education, differentiated pay, abolishing tenure, professional standards boards - this area has an incredible number of controversial, meaty issues which are all being addressed. Okay. That's - you know, I'm going to move the desk out a little bit so I'm closer to the overhead, and I don't feel like I'm jumping all over.

What is the nature of the problem? Now, I need, Brian, the wet rag, to clean off my note. In the United States, we have approximately 3 million K-12 teachers. That's approximately 4% of the civilian workforce. To give you a sense of what it is - it's twice the number of nurses, employed nurses in this country. It's five times the number of employed lawyers, although you wouldn't know it, and it's five times the number of professors. So we're talking about a massive institution, which makes the dimension of this policy issue of shortage huge. It goes into and affects every locale in the United States. The Ed department, the U.S. Department of Education, estimates that in the next decade, we'll need 2 million more new teachers, that's about 200,000 new teachers each year for the next ten years. Turnover rate in teaching over the last fifteen years, has been between 13 and 15%, it's about 12% now. The average turnover in other occupations in the United States is 11%. So it's a little higher than the average.

Now, one of the articles you read - well, several of the articles you read, talked about the big teacher shortage that was supposed to come in the 80's, that never materialized. And I want to talk a little about what happened there, because I think it gets to the nature of the problem. We now have data that we didn't have when people were predicting in the 80's, and that is the S A S S data, or the SASS data, whatever you want to call it, the School, Staffing, and Survey Data, by the National Center for Educational statistics. And that has helped us understand what the issues are.

Let me look at, with you, about the factors that affect supply and demand, and we'll see a little bit about what happened. [shuffling of papers] Can you all see that? Okay, the number one fact, of course, that affects the demands of teachers is enrollments. And there are two large things that affect enrollments. One is birth rates, which is - we have about five years before they hit kindergarten, so that's pretty predictable, the other thing is immigration. And that changes. So, enrollments are not as predictable nationwide. They're less predictable at the state, and even less at a district, because another source of immigration is from another state, another district, which is not totally predictable.

Student-teacher ratios also affect demands. Student-teacher ratios in 1960 were 26 to 1, they had dropped in 1996 to 17 to 1. Now you're saying, classes of seventeen, that takes all the teachers in a school, and divides it by the pupils, so the average class size might be twenty-five now, but the teacher-pupil ratio is 1 to 17, and some of our suburban districts around New York, it's 1 to 13. Okay.

Attrition. There are those who leave teaching, and that's unpredictable. The next category is a little more predictable, especially when there is mandatory retirement, and those who retire from teaching.

Now, let's look at the other side. Teacher supply. Major source of new teacher supply is still, despite alternate routes, undergraduate and graduate programs in teacher education. Hundreds of thousands of new teachers are prepared each year in the approximately twelve hundred teacher ed institutions, or institutions that offer teacher education in the United States.

Now, one of the things, when they were predicting the problems in the 80's, was that they didn't totally consider what the reserve pool was. And the reserve pool includes three groups of people - those who graduate and delay their entry into teaching, for a variety of reasons, so, approximately a third of the people who get degrees in teacher ed, go right into teaching. Some of them come back, some of them don't. It's somewhat unpredictable. Those who return to teaching - and this was the major thing they forgot here, and that is, the people who leave teaching, the majority, a good half of them, leave teaching to go into other teaching jobs. They don't leave teaching to become doctors or businessmen or lawyers. So, although a district or a state may lose those people to teaching, the SASS data shows that they come back, into other districts. So, the problem of shortage wasn't as great as what they thought it was going to be. And then, migration from other states, districts, and counties - also unpredictable.

Now, there was another reserve pool that they didn't even consider at all. And one of the reasons that there was no real shortage - there were very few classrooms in the 80's that didn't have a teacher in front of the classroom. And that was that administrators and districts have techniques when they can't find people. They hire long-term substitutes, or substitutes for short-term periods. They hire out-of-field teachers. Out-of-field is like when you have a social studies teacher and you have enough social studies teachers, but you really need someone to teach earth science or math. That's an out-of-field teacher. Lots of out-of-field teachers. Okay, so that took up the slack. And the third was the one you mentioned here before, and that was just higher emergency license teachers, people who don't have preparation, they're not out-of-field, they're out of preparation, totally.

So what we find in terms of attrition, for instance, is those who leave teaching, it's a curvilinear relationship, the people who leave are mostly under 30 or over 50. That makes sense. New people who leave, people who are retiring. The field in which there is the highest attrition rate in teaching is not math and science - once they're in, they're in - but is special education. And females attritch - if that's a word - attritch from teaching more than males do. And you can understand that those might be temporary leavings rather than permanent leavings. The areas where the reserve pool - what some people call substandard ways to deal with the shortage, the areas, there are certain subject areas which have more of those than others, and they are math, science, special ed, bilingual education. And urban schools.

Student:

What were - the one you were saying that ___________?

Karen Zumwalt:

They have - more of them use this kind of reserve pool, the substandard reserve pool. In other words, there's actually more of a shortage of teachers who are qualified. These people here are all qualified, or certified to be teaching. It's just hard to predict when people are going to come back, in and out of teaching. And what this analysis brought us to is something the American public knew all along. And that is, it's not just the number of teachers - shortage can't be looked at in terms of number. Shortage has to be looked at in terms of quality. And that's where the focus is now. So although the press, and if you look at many of our solutions here, they focus on numbers, getting more numbers of people. The quality of those people is the current policy concern and issue.

A concern now, of course, increases, because if you look up there, the retirement of teachers is happening at a faster rate now, because we have a large number of people who enter teaching in the 60's, for a variety of reasons. And they are at retirement age. We have college-entry, we had a decline in those going into teaching, we have an increase now, but we don't know how many of those are actually going to go into teaching, whether that's going to change or not. And given the way the market is, and the employment market is, and the lure of all these high salaries doing something with computers, one doesn't know what's going to happen there. And we have a concern because the reserve pool, that first reserve pool, is actually declining. We know that, because those people are also getting older.

The first - fourth major concern is that the number of students of color who decide to choose teaching and go into teaching is declining, as they have more opportunities elsewhere. And it's declining at the same time that we have an increase in the diversity of our student population. So this is the - some of the critical issues we face now.

Now, there's a very interesting article that you have a teeny piece of in your readings, by a man named Richard Ingersoll, at the University of Georgia. And I just want to - how much time do I have - I just want to go over that, because he takes a different cast on what the quality issue is in teaching. Using the same data that we have, it's actually the 1993-95 SASS data, and the - TFS data, the Teacher Follow-Up data, we'll have three cycles of that, and still, today, the latest cycle we have is 93-95. So, all the stuff you read in the '97 and '99 documents are still talking about several years ago. But I think it's interesting enough to present.

He looks at - well, let me first give you some of the attrition rates for teaching. For public school teachers, the attrition rate is what I said before, about 12%. Interestingly enough, one of the things that Ingersoll found in his article, is that, in his data analysis is that the highest attrition rate is for private school teachers, which is about 19%. And the highest of the highest is for small private schools, which is about 81% of the private schools in this country. And this, to him, was curious, because everyone's talking about small schools and how good private schools are. So let's see what he found out in his analysis. I put the high poverty rate there so you can see the contrast, because that's where we think the most attrition is. And as you can see, about a third leave for retirement, and Ingersoll's main point is, only a third of these people are leaving for retirement. All the other people, some are leaving for personal reasons, but look at the number, the percentage, and it's a duplicate percentage, because people can pick off more than one choice. Look at all the people who are leaving because they're dissatisfied, because they think another job will be better. That may be the issue. So he goes and looks at the data a little more. And he looks - what are the reasons that people move from one job to another? Oh, I shouldn't do that - I should do that for you. Anyone see anything on this table that's kind of interesting? This bottom table. See any differences between high poverty, small private? That it might explain the -

Student:

Dissatisfaction.

Karen Zumwalt:

Dissatisfaction. Look at the high dissatisfaction rate in small private schools. So, as a sociologist, he says, what's going on here? These are all - when you get online, go in, these are in another article by Ingersoll which I'll give to you at the end, so you can see it. These are people who move, in other words, people going to another job. They still think teaching is okay, but I could find another school, or somewhere else to go, and it'll be all right. And as you can see, the number one reason is what the unions say it is, and that's poor salary. And then, inadequate support, and then you can see student discipline problems. So they're going to look for - they still want to teach. Now, the next column I'm going to show you is what he calls the leavers. Those are the people who've given up on teaching, or at least say they'll never go back. See the difference here? Same two top items - student motivation, student discipline. They're really having issues with teaching as teaching, and they don't think going to another school is going to make a difference. Okay. Yes?

Student:

_________.

Karen Zumwalt:

Can I what?

Student:

Would you put that ___________.

Karen Zumwalt:

Okay, this is going to be on the online thing, so you'll be able to get it. So, let me - look now, at this. Okay. So I said, what are the reasons for dissatisfaction? What's the one thing that stands out there that's the problem with private schools, that we could have all told you, without all of this research data. Poor salaries. Those are the movers. They're going to go somewhere else. I'm going to go to public school, I'm going to go to a large private school that really gives me a living wage. These are the people who are leaving. There's a citation. These are the people who are leaving. Urban schools, the student issues.

Now, Ingersoll's hypothesis here is what's happening at these small private schools, are 81% of the private schools in the country, is that - and he combines the salary with the lack of administrative support - that's his lack of - I just didn't - left out lack of, in all of them. And he feels that at small private schools, what everybody praises is the cohesion, you know, everybody going the same way, makes it harder for people who aren't swimming the way that the one way that everybody else is swimming, so that there are some disadvantages to the cohesion and narrow, single mission of many - not all - of many small private schools. And what he uses this analysis to do is basically come down and say, the issue of quality of teachers, all you guys are focusing on recruitment, we lose half of our teachers, our present teachers, if we could some way stop the loss of current teachers, we wouldn't have this great problem of "teacher shortage." And in his research, which is - this, by the way, you can also download, on the resource section of the syllabus is the Center For Study of Teaching, uh, Teaching and Policy, at University of Washington, if you go to that, you can download this very interesting article. Okay. So he concludes that - he also says that the private schools are mostly losing males, minorities, and secondary school teachers, and those probably all interact in a way that has to do with low salaries and poor administrative support. People generally, on all schools, teachers are less likely to leave teaching when they have higher salaries, when they feel they have support of their administrators, and when they feel they have input and influence into decision making and a sense of autonomy in the school. So, he's saying, these are the things we should focus on, guys. Not solely on recruitment.

So there's an issue of looking at what - in a policy, looking at a nature of the problem, and not just taking a sort of simple quantity, looking at quality, and then just not looking at recruitment, but also looking at retaining teachers. So I probably should rephrase the title of this talk to be, Recruitment, Preparation, and Retaining Quality Teachers. That would probably be a more appropriate description of the issue, as it's emerging.



Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: October 15, 2000
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10598, Date Accessed: 10/18/2021 1:20:46 AM

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About the Author
  • Karen Zumwalt
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    Karen Zumwalt is Evendon Professor of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
 
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