Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.

Teacher supply again

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education has a new report out presenting data from its annual survey of teacher colleges as well as from other sources. A couple of their numbers are particularly helpful for understanding the supply of teachers.

  • 241,000 students completed programs for initial teacher certification in a recent year.
  • 164,000 teachers were new hires who had never taught before.

That means that education programs produce about 50 percent more teachers than are needed. (“About” because the two numbers above were measured a couple of years apart.)

What’s the problem? Training teachers well is expensive. Most especially, you need to arrange student teaching experiences with really good mentors–and good mentors are in short supply.

Training a third more students than can find jobs wastes resources, and it probably means that you’ve done a disservice to a bunch of students who’ve worked to become teachers and who won’t be placed in the career they’ve qualified for. Sure some students are going to change their minds about a career. In fact, one reason kids go to college is to be exposed to new life paths. But it looks to me that some shrinkage of teacher training programs might be not all that terrible.


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One Response to Teacher supply again

  1. Arthur McKee says:


    Keep in mind that 66,500 of the 164,000 teachers who had never taught before but who were hired had “delayed entry” into the profession — i.e., they’re part of the massive teacher reserve pool.

    The same NCES data set says that there are around 240,000 hires of teachers who had not taught in the previous year. The remainder (around 75,000) are teachers who had left the classroom for a time (e.g., maternity leave) but who came back.

    Considering the size of the reserve pool, I’d say that making teacher education programs more selective along the lines outlined by CAEP, and which you have modeled in the past few weeks, would be good policy.

    Here’s another question for you: if we reduced the supply of new teachers wouldn’t that put pressure on districts to increase salaries? Teacher labor markets are very tricky (intensely local, highly regulated, regimented contracts and the like) — but isn’t one reason why teacher salaries have not kept up with those of other college educated workers connected with this oversupply issue?

    By the way, this NCES data set from which all of us (AACTE, Ingersoll, NCTQ) are drawing these hiring figures should be updated soon (unless the sequester has slowed it down . . .).


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