Job Market Update: Outlook Seen Improving, Loan Forgiveness Boosted

January 12, 2005 2 min read

The teacher job market is showing signs of improvement, according to a preliminary report released by the American Association for Employment in Education.

Based on survey responses from education-school deans and career-center officers, the AAEE’s data show a slight upward trend in demand for teachers in 2004, compared to a slight downward trend over the previous two years.

Of the 64 fields surveyed—including some in school administration and social services—half reported shortages. “Considerable shortages” were reported for special education and mathematics teachers, while educators in bilingual education, science, Spanish, and English as a second language were also in need.

A long-term trend of a slight surplus of elementary education teachers continued, the report finds, though the supply of such teachers has stabilized.

However, in a positive long-term sign for prospective educators, no fields were reported to have a “considerable surplus” of teachers. The report also notes that the No Child Left Behind Act’s mandate for “highly qualified” teachers has caused concern for schools about how to fill shortage positions.

Teachers who meet those criteria will obviously have an advantage in the next few years.

Offering Incentive

Meanwhile, in yet another sign that teachers in certain fields are in high demand, President Bush signed legislation on Oct. 30, 2004 that increases the amount of federal student-loan forgiveness available to some math, science, and special education teachers.

In general, qualified teachers who work full-time in a low-income school for five years are eligible to have up to $5,000 of their student-loan debt cancelled. The newly enacted Taxpayer-Teacher Protection Act boosts the limit on loan forgiveness to $17,500 for high school math and science teachers and elementary and high school special education teachers who work in high-poverty schools.

To qualify for the benefit, teachers must be “highly qualified” under the No Child Left Behind Act and—perhaps the key sticking point—must have taken out their student loan prior to Oct. 1, 2005.

The new federal provision joins a host of sometimes little-known state initiatives to provide incentives to teachers who work in hard-to-fill positions. According to Education Week‘s Research Center, 25 states offer incentives—ranging from loans and scholarships to bonuses—to teachers in shortage subject areas. Thirteen states offer incentives for teachers who work in high-poverty or low-performing schools.

Some private entities are also getting involved in the effort. According to a recent Education Week report, for example, the New York City-based Math for America Foundation, has announced plans to pay for graduate school in math education for up to 200 recent college graduates and midcareer professionals who will teach math in New York City public schools.

On top of tuition, the foundation will give recipients a $28,000 stipend during the one-year graduate program, as well as $12,500 a year for their initial four years as teachers.

—Compiled from Education Week reports.