A Review of Research
source of information on teachers available—the Schools and Staffing Survey(SASS) and its supplement, the Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS).*Conducted bythe National Center for Education Statistics, the SASS administers survey question-naires to a random sample of about 50,000 educators representing all types of teachers, schools, and districts and all 50 U.S. states. Unlike most large-scale sur-veys in the field, SASS focuses on teachers rather than students.Six cycles of SASS have been administered over a 20-year period—1987-88,1990-91, 1993-94, 1999-2000, 2003-04, and 2007-08. We decided to take advantageof the depth and duration of these data to explore our questions about the demo-graphic status of the teaching profession. Below, we summarize four of the mostintriguing trends we found.For each of the trends two large questions immediately arise: First of all, why? What are the reasons for, and sources of, the trend? Second, so what? What are theimplications, and consequences, of the trend? There are numerous possibleanswers to each of these questions and we have been able to test and rule in, orout, a number of them. But our goal has not been to get closure on either set of questions—that would require far more extensive analyses than we have yet done.Our objective this far has been largely descriptive and suggestive, rather thanexplanatory or evaluative. In short, at this point we ask more questions than we areable to answer. Hopefully, in time, further research can rectify that.
Trend 1: Ballooning
The Census Bureau indicates that K-12 teaching has long been one of thelargest occupational groups in the nation (if not the largest), and it is growing evenlarger. Data from the U.S. Department of Education show the numbers of both stu-dents and teachers grew throughout the 20th century. But the rate of growth forboth groups began to soar in the late 1940s with the post-World War II baby boom.By 1970, student enrollments peaked and then declined until the mid 1980s. At thesame time, the numbers of teachers similarly peaked and then leveled off. By themid 1980s, student enrollments again began to grow—the baby boomlet—continu-ing to the present. During this period, the teaching force has also been increasing.The rate of these increases has not matched those of the baby boom years—withone large difference. The rate of increase for teachers has far outpaced the rate of increase for students—the numbers of teachers are going up far faster than are thenumbers of students.
The Changing Face of theTeaching Force
By Richard Ingersoll and Lisa Merrill
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*This summary draws from an earlier article, “Who’s Teaching Our Children?”, which appeared in
Educational Leadership, 67
. Support for our research came from a grant to the National Commission on Teaching and America’sFuture from the Gates Foundation and from a grant from the Teacher Professional Continuum Program of theNational Science Foundation. Henry May and David Perda provided valuable assistance with the data analyses.