Teacher-Education Enrollments Seen Rising in Survey
After steady declines during much of the past decade, the number of students training to be teachers has stabilized and may be increasing, according to preliminary results from a new national survey.
The findings for the first time provide more than anecdotal information that the number of students preparing to be teachers may be on the rise.
The study found that between 1984 and 1985, the average number of teacher-education students at the institutions surveyed rose by 3 percent, from about 630 to 651. The data include both undergraduate and graduate-level students and those studying full and part time.
Teacher educators and others said last week that they were encouraged by the findings. They noted, however, that the slight increase over one year does not necessarily indicate the beginning of an upward trend in education-school enrollments.
The findings, which were made public on Feb. 13 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, are based on a survey conducted over the past year of 76 representative institutions from among the approximately 1,250 colleges and universities that prepare teachers.
The survey, which is based primarily on 1985 data, was conducted by AACTE's committee on research and information. It is the first of what the association says will be an annual survey of institutions that train teachers.
In addition to the enrollment data, this year's survey includes demographic information on teacher-education students, general information on teacher-education programs, and attitudinal surveys of education-school faculty members.
"This is the first time anybody has set out to develop an ongoing data base on teacher-training institutions with a high level of accuracy,'' said Sam J. Yarger, dean of the school of education at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and chairman of the research committee that conducted the study.
The colleges and universities surveyed, he said, were randomly selected from three strata of institutions: those offering only bachelor's degrees, those offering bachelor's and master's degrees, and those offering bachelor's and master's degrees and doctorates.
Shortage Not Addressed
"What we have found is that enrollments are steady and increasing slightly,'' said Gary Galluzzo, associate professor of teacher education at Western Kentucky University and a member of the six-member team that conducted the study.
"We aren't touching the question of the teacher shortage here,'' Mr. Galluzzo said. "We just think that the findings indicate that more people are going into education. And we think that is encouraging.'' After next year's survey, he said, "we will see if we can be more optimistic.''
'Long Way To Go'
Arthur E. Wise, director of the RAND Corporation's center for the study of the teaching profession, said the findings were "not surprising.''
"It is good to see that the trend is in the right direction,'' Mr. Wise said. "But we need to keep in mind that the 3 percent increase is over a relatively low base. The number of graduates of teacher-education institutions is roughly half of what it was a decade ago.''
"We have a long way to go to produce a supply of teachers that will be adequate for the likely demand,'' he continued. "A 3 percent rise won't do it.''
According to Mr. Galluzzo, the survey findings also hint that a number of the popularly held perceptions about teacher-training programs and the students enrolled in them might not be valid.
For example, he said, the survey found that students preparing to teach at the secondary and elementary levels take an average of about 40 credit hours, or one-third of their course load, in their academic major--roughly the same number of credits that non-education students take in their majors.
"The general opinion is that [education schools] have replaced content in academic areas with courses in how to teach.'' Mr. Galluzzo said. "But we have data here that looks like that is not the case.''
Bolstering that data, he said, are survey findings showing that students preparing to teach high-school mathematics and English take an average of 7.5 credits in methods courses, the equivalent of only two or three courses.
"This counters the argument that our students spend all their time taking education courses,'' Mr. Galluzzo said.
In addition, the survey revealed that high-school scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test for students enrolled in teacher-education programs are, on average, not as low as previous reports have indicated, Mr. Galluzzo said.
For example, he said, an earlier report by the College Board had stated that high-school juniors who, in 1983, were considering a career in teaching had an average combined SAT score of 812, out of a total possible score of 1600.
The AACTE survey found, however, that the average combined S.A.T. score for education students in the 20 survey institutions that kept such data was 927 for those preparing to teach elementary school and 981 for those preparing to teach high school.
The survey also found that prospective elementary and secondary teachers enter training programs with a college grade-point average of 2.92.
Both findings, Mr. Galluzzo said, indicate that "our students tend to be good 'B' students, not the dummies that we are characterized as getting.''
The survey also queried faculty members at responding institutions about the teacher-training programs with which they were affiliated.
Asked if their programs provided students with enough time "to achieve the level of knowledge and skill appropriate for a beginning teacher,'' 67 percent of faculty members said there was enough time for such mastery, and 3.8 percent suggested there was more than enough time. Almost 30 percent, however, said there was not enough time.
Roughly three out of four responding faculty members characterized their programs as "better than average'' or "excellent,'' while one out of five assessed their program as "average.'' Only one out of 20 faculty members ranked their program "below average'' or "poor.''
Asked to assess the "knowledge base'' for teacher preparation in relation to that of a decade ago, more than 85 percent of the responding faculty members said there had been moderate to considerable improvement.
Survey data collected on a representative sample of students enrolled in the teacher-training programs revealed the following:
- Sixty-two percent are women, 38 percent male.
- Ninety percent are white, 4.6 percent black, 2.8 percent Hispanic, and 1.4 percent Asian or Pacific Islander.
- Eighty-six percent intend to go into teaching after graduation; more than half of the remaining 14 percent plan to enter an education-related field or graduate school.
- Fifty-four percent say they want to teach in a suburban area; 27 percent say they would prefer teaching in a rural area. Only 15 percent say they want to teach in an urban area.
Mr. Yargar said he hoped to have a final report on the survey's finding completed by the end of April.