School & District Management

Teaching Force Tripled in High-Poverty Schools, Fed Data Show

By Sarah D. Sparks — April 13, 2017 1 min read

In the past 25 years, the American teaching force has grown significantly, becoming less experienced but more diverse, a new analysis by the National Center on Education Statistics finds.

Based on data from the federal Schools and Staffing Survey, researchers found the teaching pool nationwide grew by 46 percent from 1987 to 2012—twice the growth rate of student enrollment. The number of teachers in high-poverty schools more than tripled during that time, while the number of teachers at wealthier schools fell somewhat. As the chart to the left shows, teachers of English as a second language saw the most dramatic growth; while there were only about 6,000 in 1988, by 2012 there were more than 71,000 in classrooms nationwide.

More New Teachers

The average teacher had five years of experience in 2012, down from 15 years in 1988. That’s in part due to the ongoing retirement of Baby Boomer teachers, but also because of the influx of new teachers coming in through programs such as Teach For America and alternate certification programs to help professionals in other careers become teachers.

While teachers from racial minority groups are still underrepresented overall, they made up 17.3 percent of teachers in 2011-12, up from 12.4 percent in 1987-88.

Districts also hired more teachers in their highest-need schools: Those with more than 75 percent of students in poverty had higher growth in teachers than those with poverty rates of 33 percent to 74 percent, and the number of teachers in schools with less than a third of students in poverty actually declined.

Chart Source: National Center for Education Statistics.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.