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Supply of New Teachers Rose in the Mid-1980s, NCES Survey Finds

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After declining for years, the number of new teachers in the job market increased for the first time in the mid-1980's, according to a new national study.

The report by the National Center on Education Statistics confirms what a number of other national studies have suggested in recent years: that teaching may be regaining its status as an attractive career option.

This newest report is based on surveys of teachers interviewed one year after graduating from a teacher-training program and becoming certified. It found that the number of newly qualified teachers had increased from 105,000 in 1985, the last year a survey was done, to 126,000 in 1987.

The 20 percent increase came at the end of nearly a decade of declines, according to the federal researchers. In 1976, when the first such study was conducted, there4were 261,000 newly qualified teachers; the number had decreased steadily thereafter.

"Basically, what you're seeing is a response to incentives," said Richard Murnane, an economist and a professor of education at Harvard University's graduate school of education. "After 1984, a number of states started to take actions to increase teacher salaries and the gap between teacher salaries and salaries in other professions is closing."

The nces study, which was discussed at last month's meeting of the American Education Research Association in Boston, is scheduled to be published in June. It is drawn from surveys of 18,800 bachelor's-degree recipients and 2,400 master's-degree graduates from all fields.

The sharpest increases recorded were among newly qualified teachers holding a master's degree. Their number increased from 6,300 in 1984 to 14,000 in 1986--a 122 per8cent increase, according to Martin Frankel, chief of the center's cross-sectional-studies branch.

The researchers also noted that, despite widespread reports of teacher shortages, only 61 percent of those surveyed were employed as teachers one year after graduation.

Moreover, only about three-quarters of those who were teaching were teaching in an area for which they were certified.

Of those teaching in the physical sciences, for example, only 31 percent were certified in that subject. Half of the mathematics teachers were certified in that area and only 27 percent of art teachers were qualified in that field.

In contrast, 87 percent of the elementary-school teachers held certification in elementary education.

The researchers also found that, despite some improvement in recent years, beginning teachers' salaries continued to lag behind those of recent graduates in other fields.

On average, the teachers surveyed reported earning $15,700, while the average for all other graduates was $20,600.

Disparities were particularly significant between teachers and non-teachers trained in mathematics, science, and the physical sciences. According to the study, the teachers in those subject areas were earning an average of $17,000 a year, compared with an annual salary of $22,500 for their peers in fields outside of teaching.

Copies of the report,"New Teachers in the Job Market: 1987 Update," will be available from the U.S. Government Printing Office next month. Information on ordering can be obtained at that time by calling information services at the U.S. Education Department's office of educational research and improvement. The telephone numbers are: 1-800-424-1616 or (202) 626-9854.

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