Where are the Teaching Opportunities? A Longitudinal Study of Educator Supply and Demand
by Kelly D. Bradley, Shannon O. Sampson, Lingling Ma & Jessica D. Cunningham - December 05, 2006
For almost three decades, the American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) has conducted an annual survey of higher education institutions preparing teachers. The ongoing goal of AAEE is to address the challenges of matching educational institutions and educational staff. Results demonstrate trends in educator supply and demand to assist pre-service teachers, teacher education programs, and policy makers in preparing for future areas of need.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study:
Data regarding educator supply and demand, from the years 1999-2004, was analyzed to present long-term trends in the 64 educator fields. Furthermore, the variation of educator supply and demand—within subject area and by geographic region—was investigated.
A selected response survey instrument is mailed annually to approximately 1,270 college and university directors of career services, or deans of teacher education institutions listed in the Higher Education Directory. For the years being studied, 1999-2004, response rates ranged from 40 to 60 percent.
In a self-administered questionnaire, respondents were asked to indicate which education fields were offered at their institution, and then to rate the perceived demand for these education fields on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing a perceived “Considerable surplus” and 5 representing a "Considerable shortage” of educators. Regional studies of employers have consistently validated the data provided by representatives from colleges and universities.
Data Collection and Analysis:
To examine trends in educator supply and demand over the years 1999-2004, survey data collected from the AAEE study was analyzed. Data trends were examined, overall and by region, via descriptive analysis and Scheffe’s multiple comparisons tests under each of the 64 educational fields.
Fields in special education, mathematics education, and physics were perceived to have a Considerable shortage for all six years under review. The overall trend indicates the teacher shortage peaked for most of these fields in 2001, declined toward 2003, and tempered in 2004.
A need exists for increased efforts in educator recruitment and retention to address the persisting field-specific shortages. Results demonstrate that the teacher shortage is not as severe as some literature predicted it would be by 2004. With federal guidelines requiring core subject teachers to be certified and demonstrably competent by the 2005-2006 school year, the shortage may be exacerbated. The trend for 2005 and beyond will likely reflect the effects of No Child Left Behind on the supply of educators.
Since teachers play a critical role in student achievement, recruiting highly qualified college students into teaching has become a critical issue in education in the United States (U.S.) and worldwide (Buchen, 2004; Hickcox, 2001; NCLB, 2002). Educational researchers and policy makers have recognized an impending teacher shortage and its impact on student academic performance. Furthermore, the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has prompted concerns on the part of school systems regarding how to recruit qualified teachers in all fields, especially those perceived as having shortages (AAEE, 2004).
The American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) is an international, professional organization. AAEE was founded in 1934 as the National Institutional Teacher Placement Association. From 1962 to 1996, AAEE was known as the Association for School, College and University Staffing (ASCUS). The ongoing goal of AAEE is to ease the day-to-day challenges of matching educational institutions and staff. For almost three decades, AAEE has conducted an annual survey of institutions preparing teachers. The findings of the annual AAEE Supply and Demand Survey have been reported in various outlets including CNN and Fox News. Results were featured in the 2004 spring edition of Tomorrows Teachers, published by the National Education Association. In the summer of 2003, AAEE was featured as an authoritative source in an Associated Press article that has been extensively circulated and reprinted in dozens of newspapers across the U.S.
Politicians and school leaders across the country have been warning of a pending teacher shortage (Hardy, 2002), and recent reports on teacher supply and demand have suggested that there is a demand for teachers (AAEE, 2005). However, the need for teachers varies across fields and within regions of the country. As reported in the 2005 AAEE executive summary, shortages are most prevalent in specific subject areas such as special education, mathematics, and science education, and also in certain geographic regions such as rural areas. Reasons cited as contributing to demand include the early retirement of educators and increased student enrollment, whereas factors offsetting the demand include local, state, and federal mandates and funding. Many suggest that teacher demand will be affected by the NCLB mandate that states should have certified all core-subject teachers as highly qualified by the end of the 20052006 academic year (Hurwitz & Hurwitz, 2005). Factors contributing to the supply of teachers are limited to teachers reentering the workforce, participation in alternative certification programs, and distance learning teacher education programs. Many factors are cited as offsetting supply, including teacher salaries, school violence/safety, amount of teaching time, and funding. It is important when considering the factors to recall that much of the research in this area is perception-based.
Subject area shortages and surpluses
The number of teachers needed to meet the demands of different education fields is more worthy of attention than, in general, the total number of teachers needed. For example, fields such as special education, English as a second language (ESL), mathematics, and science education typically show more pronounced demand than other teaching areas.
Special education is a field described as having a severe, chronic shortage (McLeskey, Tyler & Flippin, 2004; Murphy & DeArmond, 2003; Velez-Rogdriguez & Miles, 2004). In 2000, The Urban Teachers Challenge Report, a study of the largest urban school districts reported that 98 percent of responding districts had an immediate demand for special education teachers (Urban Teacher Collaborative, 2000). Not only is special education reported to be in shortage in 98 percent of the nations school districts, it is also reported to be the field of greatest shortage in the 200 largest cities (American Federation of Teachers, 1999; Fideler, Foster & Schwartz, 2000). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2004), the employment of special education teachers is expected to increase faster than average through 2012 due to the growing enrollment of special education students, which is being fueled by legislation encouraging early intervention. Over the next 10 years, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts shortages of qualified teachers in this area, noting public schools today serve more than six million students with disabilities. Even more, all 50 states and the District of Columbia require special education teachers to be licensed with a general education credential and a specialty certificate to teach special education students.
According to the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) data from 1999-2000, difficulty in filling positions has also been reported in foreign languages and ESL (Murphy & DeArmond, 2003). An overwhelming number of states have teacher shortages in foreign languages, bilingual education, and ESL according to the data collected by the Department of Education in 2004 (Velez-Rodriguez & Miles, 2004).
The need for math and science teachers is widespread as well, with a respective 95 percent and 98 percent of urban school districts in the Urban Teacher Challenge reporting an immediate need for teachers in these areas (Urban Teacher Collaborative, 2000). The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century (2000) recently reported that the demand for certified and fully qualified math and science teachers is far outpacing supply and projected that 170,000 new middle and high school math and science teachers will be needed over the next 10 years (p. 21). Factors leading to demand for teachers in these areas are different than with special education and ESL. Some attribute the shortage to the opportunities in industry and other non-teaching professions attracting potential math and science teachers away from teaching (Neuborne, 2004). To combat this, the National Commission for Mathematics and Science Teaching (2000) suggests that districts could pay math and science teachers higher salaries than those typically paid to other teachers. The U.S. Department of Educations SASS data shows that only 10 percent of schools reported using subject-area differentiated pay incentives to attract teachers in these fields (Murphy & DeArmond, 2003).
Geographic area shortages and surpluses
Teacher shortage varies by region, such that the geographic distribution of teachers is unbalanced. The findings in the executive summary for the Center on Reinventing Public Education (Murphy & DeArmond, 2003) indicated difficulty in recruiting teachers from 1999-2002 in the following geographic regions: urban areas enrolling low-income minority students; and also, the West and Southwest regions, for reasons ranging from enrollment increases to high housing costs. Studies have consistently demonstrated that a majority of teachers are employed within 50 miles of their hometown or university where they received their training (Boyd, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2005; Loschert, 2004), so teachers may not be willing to move to meet the demand. Furthermore, many states do not have reciprocity arrangements for accepting out of state teaching licenses, potentially exacerbating the problem of positioning teachers where they are most needed (Darling-Hammond, 2000). Although a bulk of the literature on teacher shortages still points to the need for more aggressive recruitment strategies, the more recent focus is on strategies for teacher retention (Buckley, Schneider, & Shang, 2005; Ingersoll, 2001).
Ingersoll (2003) suggests that the overall supply of teachers is not insufficient; however, the reviewed studies indicate that the general supply is not meeting the specific demands for teachers in certain subject areas, and in specific regions of the country. The studies reviewed present descriptions of the intersection of supply and demand in particular regions or at particular points in timea study which considers the broad perspective of trends over time and within various regions is in order.
Data regarding educator supply and demand, from the years 1999-2004, was analyzed to present long-term trends in the 64 teaching fields. Furthermore, the variation of educator supply and demand within subject area and by geographic region was investigated.
To get a clear picture of educator supply and demand, the American Association of Employment in Education (AAEE) has conducted an annual survey regarding the supply of and demand for educators in various education fields for nearly three decades. This inquiry is directed toward assisting educational researchers and teacher education programs with answering the question of what areas of the country are in greatest need of qualified graduates in specific teaching fields. By utilizing AAEEs annual executive summary, teacher education programs can support pre-service teachers in making informed decisions about their specializations to best match their talents to the needs of the nations classrooms (AAEE, 2004). The underlying assumption is that the opinions and perceptions of university directors in charge of career services, and other teacher education program administrators, accurately reflect the job market that their students are entering in the upcoming school year.
This study focuses on the relative supply and demand of educators in 64 teaching fields. Demand for the teaching field was defined on a five-point scale, where 1 is considerable surplus, 3 is balanced, and 5 is considerable shortage. The scale was utilized to create categories of supply and demand using a practical, yet statistically reasonable, approach. Given the five-point scale, there are four points of difference. Taking the five response options and dividing by the four thresholds results in an expected, aggregate standard deviation of 0.8. While 1.0 is commonly used, this is problematic here as there is a recognized ceiling and floor limitation, 1 to 5. The computed 0.8 was divided and then added and subtracted to the midpoint (3 = balanced), yielding a range 2.61 to 3.40 for the balanced category. Adding and subtracting 0.8 from those values determined the remaining cut points.
AAEEs operationalized categories, as explained above, are applied to this study. Considerable shortage is considered to be an average demand score of 4.21 or greater. Some shortage is classified as an average demand score of 3.41 to 4.20. A field is considered balanced when it has an average demand score of 2.61 to 3.40. With an average demand score of 1.81 to 2.60, a field is argued to have some surplus. Finally, an average demand score of 1.0 to 1.8 is categorized as considerable surplus.
Each February, from 19992004, a selected response survey instrument was mailed to approximately 1,270 college and university teacher education programs as listed in the Higher Education Directory. At the end of April, during each of those five years, a second mailing was sent to all those institutions that had not previously returned their completed survey. The return rates ranged from 40 percent to 60 percent. In some instances, the responding institutions did not respond to all 64 items. Missing data from such surveys were treated as missing, meaning that no means or other estimates were imputed. This was decided as respondents were instructed to provide their perceptions of teaching fields that were offered only as degrees at their institution.
The collected data was analyzed by checking for the representativeness of the return sample on the variables of AAEE/non-AAEE membership, region, and response wave. The response sample was found to be representative by response wave, but not representative by region and AAEE/non-AAEE membership. Significantly, more AAEE members returned the survey than non-AAEE members. This situation is not likely to adversely influence the reported data as AAEE member institutions produce at least 65 percent of the total annual number of newly prepared educators. There were also small differences in response rate by region. Again, this is not a grave concern as those regions producing the greatest number of teachers were overrepresented. AAEE members and non-members were compared across each of the 64 education fields with respect to the perceived need for those fields. For over 95 percent of the items, the perceptions of the AAEE and non-AAEE members were neither statistically different nor practically meaningful. Therefore, the responses from both AAEE and non-AAEE institutions were combined into an overall data set.
Stability of the data set
Periodically, a regional study of employers is conducted to help validate the responses of the colleges and universities. These studies have consistently validated the data provided by representatives from colleges and universities. For each of the 48 original teaching fields, the means for various surveys and year(s) (ASCUS 1995, AAEE 1996 - 2003, SEASCUS 1994, MAASCUS 1995, GLASCUS 19971) were compared. There was consistency among the 12 cohorts of respondents regarding fields with perceived shortage, surplus, and balanced conditions with respect to supply and demand. Overall, there is strong agreement between the suppliers (AAEE survey responders) and the demanders (employers from SEASCUS, MAASCUS, and GLASCUS). Intraclass correlations across teaching fields for the data sets ranged from a low of .57 to a high of .99. The correlations across the years 1994, 1995, and 1997, based on the responses from the demand side (school districts), were a low of .90 to a high of .98. The correlations across years are higher for years in close proximity to each other and become lower as time between studies increases. In general, they are quite stable.
Descriptive statistics were generated for the 64 teaching fields. Table 1 includes the average demand ratings and corresponding standard deviations for each field from 1999 to 2004. Each education field has been rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing a perceived Considerable surplus of educators and 5 representing a Considerable shortage of educators. A higher average rating for the teaching fields indicates that greater need for teachers is perceived for those fields. Table 1 provides demand means for the 64 teaching fields from the year 1999 to 2004. These teaching fields are organized according to the most perceived shortage to the most perceived surplus determined by the AAEE survey in the year 2004. As one of our research questions is to examine to what extent educator supply and demand vary within each subject area from 1999 to 2004, multiple comparisons tests (Scheffes tests) are used to examine the long-term trends for each of the 64 areas. Specifically, Scheffes tests were used to report the significant differences of the average demand scores between the previous years (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003) and baseline year (2004) within each field. For example, the teaching field of chemistry was perceived to be in the Considerable Shortage category in both 2000 and 2001, and fell into the Some Shortage category in 2004. Multiple comparisons tests also confirmed that there were significant changes in the average demand scores between the year 2000 and 2004, and also between the year 2001 and 2004.
Demand Means for Sixty-Four Teaching Fields from 1999-2004
Notes: 1. Means are calculated based on the Likert-scale from 1 (Considerable surplus) to 5 Considerable shortage). Demand codes: 5.00 4.21 = Considerable Shortage; 4.20 3.41 = Some Shortage; 3.40 2.61 = Balanced; 2.60 1.81 = Some Surplus; 1.80 1.00 = Considerable Surplus 2. The Standard Deviation (SD) for every mean reported is listed in the bracket in each cell. 3. Special Education Fields are indicated with 1. 4. *** p<=0.05 for the field (row) according to Scheffes test between the year (column) and year 2004.
Eight teaching fields (12.5 percent) were perceived to have Considerable shortage in 2004; six of which were branches of special education, and the other two were mathematics and science (physics). All of these fields have been in this category for the six years under review. Mathematics education was rated significantly higher in 2000 and 2001 than in 2004. More teaching fields fell into this category prior to 2004: chemistry in 2000 and 2001; ESL in 2001; and computer science in 2000.
More fields fell in the Some shortage category in 2004. Similar to the Considerable shortage category, certain fields were perceived to have significantly more shortage in years prior to 2004: computer science in 1999 and 2000; technology education in 2000; Spanish and ESL in 2000 and 2001; and biology and earth/physical science in 2001.
In 2000 and 2001, the need for counselors and music educators (both for instrumental and vocal branches) was high enough to push these fields from the Balanced into the Some shortage range, which was also the case for French in 2000. English/language arts, German, business education, and Pre-K elementary remained in the Balanced category from 1999-2004, but the demand for these fields was significantly higher in 2000 and 2001. Intermediate elementary education and kindergarten also fell in the Balanced category from 1999-2004, but had significantly more demand from 1999-2002 (intermediate elementary education) and for kindergarten from 1999-2001. At the surplus end of the scale, no fields fell in the Considerable surplus category for any of the years under review, and only five (~7.8 percent) were in the Some surplus range for 2004.
The demand trend for the fields with Considerable shortage in 2004 is illustrated through the graph in Figure 1.
Figure 1. The Demand Trends of the Fields with Considerable Shortage Category
The overall trend indicates the teacher shortage peaked for most of these fields in 2001, declined toward 2003, and tempered in 2004. Figure 2 displays the number of fields within each category. The cutoff point for Considerable shortage is 4.20.
Figure 2. Number of Fields in Each Relative Demand Category from 1999-2004
There was a dramatic change in the number of fields within the Considerable shortage category in the year 2000, where 18 fields (just over 28 percent) fell in the category, up from six in 1999. The number of fields rated over 4.20, in the Considerable shortage category, reached a peak in 2001 with 31 out of 64 total fields (~48.4 percent). The trend reversed after 2001, where only nine fields (just over 14 percent) remained in that category in 2002 and one field remained in that category in 2003. In 2004, eight fields (12.5 percent) were rated as being in Considerable shortage. Included were six special education areas, physics, and mathematics education. For the years from 1999 to 2004, no fields were reported in the category of Considerable surplus.
In Table 2, regional variations were calculated for selected special education fields, along with mathematics education and physics, providing insight into the eight fields represented in the Considerable shortage category in 2004.
Teacher Demand by Region and Year for Selected Considerable Shortage Fields
Notes: 1. Region codes: 1 - Northwest, 2 West, 3- Rocky Mountain, 4 Great Plains/Midwest,
5 South Central, 6 Southeast, 7 Great Lakes, 8 Middle Atlantic, 9 Northeast, 10 Alaska and 11- Hawaii. 2. Demand codes: 5.00 4.21 = Considerable Shortage; 4.20 3.41 = Some Shortage; 3.40 2.61 = Balanced; 2.60 1.81 = Some Surplus; 1.80 1.00 = Considerable Surplus. 3. Reporting sample too small for Regions 10 and 11 to have meaningful representation between groups 4. The total number of participants in each region is listed in the bracket in each cell.
Although teacher shortages varied by region for each field, the change among the 11 geographic regions was not as dramatic as the change across the years. Still, certain regions consistently had slightly more or less shortage than the others. Regions 10 and 11 (Alaska and Hawaii, respectively) consistently rated the special education fields the highest of all the regions. Region 9 (Northeast) consistently had the highest shortage ratings in physics, whereas Region 3 (Rocky Mountain) had the highest shortage ratings for mathematics education for three years.
On the other hand, the disaggregated data indicates certain regions rated fields low enough to fall into categories of less than Considerable shortage. For example, in 2003, Region 1 (Northwest) had average ratings for five of the special education areas and mathematics education such that the shortage in this region would be considered as Some shortage instead of a Considerable shortage. In 2003, Region 5 (South Central) rated physics low enough to fall in the Balanced category. Similarly, Region 10 (Alaska) rated mathematics education as having Some shortage in 2000 and as being Balanced in 2001, although by 2004, the ratings had moved up to the top end of the Considerable Shortage category. While the Mental Retardation field fell in the Considerable shortage category overall for 2004, many regions (1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8) rated the field as having only Some shortage in 2003 and/or 2004. Mathematics education was rated similarly; Regions 1, 2, 4, and 7 rated this field as having only Some shortage in 2003 and Regions 1, 5, 7 and 9 rated it with Some shortage in 2004.
Demand Trends from 1999-2004
In accordance with the literature, the majority of teaching fields perceived to have a Considerable shortage at some point during the years under review were various branches of special education, mathematics education, physics, chemistry, ESL, and computer science. Specifically, findings for field-specific demand trends confirm findings highlighting shortages by teacher fields within this analysis. Similar to previous studies which report special education as being in severe, chronic shortage (McLeskey, Tyler & Flippin, 2004; Murphy & DeArmond, 2003; Velez-Rogdriguez & Miles, 2004), all six special education fields fell in the Considerable shortage category for all years under review. Mathematics and all fields of science have been perceived in shortage for all years under review, aligning with the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century (2000) projections that indicate that the demand for certified math and science teachers is outpacing supply. Outside of these subject areas, the shortages may not have been as grave or widespread as forewarned (Hardy, 2002).
Although the teacher shortage appeared to increase leading into the millennium and peaked for most fields in 2001, the shortages declined toward 2003, and in the last two years of the series, most fields were either Balanced or had only Some shortage. However, the issue is likely larger than simply the preparation of teachers to fill open positions, as there are external factors that affect supply and demand. Reflecting on the declining shortage, it is likely that the slow economy played a role in the decline in educator demand in 2003. It is reasonable to believe that the supply had not increased, but rather, that school districts faced large budget cuts leading to less teacher hires in fields outside of core content. With federal guidelines (NCLB) requiring core subject teachers to be certified and demonstrably competent by the 2005-2006 school year, the shortage may be exacerbated. The trend for 2005 and beyond will likely reflect the effects of No Child Left Behind on the supply of educators.
Demand Trends by Region
While the literature suggests that the demand for teachers is typically concentrated in urban and rural areas, as well as in some southern, western and southwestern states (American Federation of Teachers, 1999; Fideler, Foster & Schwartz, 2000; Murphy & DeArmond, 2003; Urban Teacher Collaborative, 2000), this study did not fully support that assertion. In this study, Alaska and Hawaii consistently rated the special education fields the highest of all the regions; the Northeast consistently had the highest shortage ratings in physics; whereas the Rocky Mountain region had the highest shortage ratings for mathematics education for three years. In 2003, the South Central region rated physics low enough to fall in the Balanced category. Supporting the literature, the Northwest region had average ratings for five of the special education areas and mathematics education such that the shortage in this region would be considered as Some shortage instead of a Considerable shortage.
The regional averages may be masked by the diverse combination of states in the regions. For example, Region 6 (Southeast) contains 10 states including Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The demographics of these states are very different. Even more, demographics vary within each state. The differences across regions might be more reflective of the literature if the regions were more demographically homogeneous.
Based on the investigation of the six year trend, the market demand reached a peak in 2001 when all fields surveyed were reported in either shortage or balanced categories. Results for the ensuing years have been mixed, exhibiting both downward and upward movements. Unfavorable economic conditions in 2002 and 2003 likely had an impact on hiring trends, as well as on the perceptions of supply and demand from the standpoint of higher education institutions. The improvement of economic conditions in 2004 may be reflected in the slight increase in the demand for educators in 2004.
School districts have been challenged to balance fiscal realities with federal and state mandates calling for highly qualified educators. Furthermore, school systems are challenged to balance their staffing needs with the available supply of qualified candidates. Even with national statistics indicating a more optimistic job market, it is important to note that recovery in certain regions and settings has been slow. Shortages and surpluses vary from state to state, region to region, and by discipline.
The results of this study demonstrate that the teacher shortage is not as severe as some literature predicted it would be by 2004. With that being said, it is beyond the scope of this study to determine whether the modest shortage is truly reflective of an increasingly balanced supply and demand or if the true shortages are veiled by external factors. Similar analyses in the coming years will reveal if the shortages are increasing over the long term or if they are indeed leveling. This longitudinal examination of teacher supply and demand can be a resource for teacher education programs as they structure coursework and design certification curricula. It provides prospective educators information about which teaching fields are in need of teachers, what regions are most promising, and how consistent the needs areover timein recent years. States and school districts can use the information to observe how past efforts have affected the demand in certain fields and to determine where to focus recruiting efforts.
1. Key to associations administering surveys: AAEE American Association for Employment in Education; ASCUS previous name of AAEE, Association for School, College and University Staffing; SEASCUS South Eastern ASCUS, now Southeastern AEE; MAASCUS Middle Atlantic ASCUS, now Mid-Atlantic AEE; GLASCUS Great Lakes ASCUS, now Midwest AEE
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