Teaching Careers and the shortage of future teachers - Student Research Foundation

Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Teachers

It’s hard to avoid news stories these days detailing the teacher shortage gripping public schools across the United States. Last year, the Learning Policy Institute wrote of the teacher pipeline crisis. LPI even developed an interesting map that addressed the issue, state by state.

Some organizations have sought to address the issue by focusing on the quality and rigor of teacher preparation programs. Others, like Educators Rising, have taken on the issue by trying to expand the teacher pipeline, including by recruiting high school students for future careers in the classroom.

Regardless of which way one approaches the issue, it is clear that much work must be done to inform today’s students on tomorrow’s careers as educators. Recent data from our research partners show that just 3.6 percent of today’s high school students aspire to become teachers.
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The Importance of Career Knowledge

We hear more often that students are beginning to consider career pathways at earlier and earlier ages. But as today’s students dream about their futures, it is essential that they have access to research-based knowledge of those career pathways.

Last year, educators from across the country worked with their students to gather valuable information on what today’s learners believe is most important when it comes to career knowledge. While the results may be surprising to some, they provide valuable insights on career aspirations of our students and how educators can help them achieve those goals.

The below info graphic, developed by the Student Research Foundation, provides just one piece of the information gained from the student perceptions data gathered by ERCA and its partners. In the coming weeks, we will share additional data points, information that can help all teachers better guide their students toward meaningful college and career paths.

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The “Average” Teacher

While we all know there is no such thing as an “average” teacher, particularly with so many demands placed on educators these days, Education Week recently developed a strong package on what the teaching profession looks like today.

The video and accompanying editorial piece look to U.S. Department of Education survey data to give a clearer picture of what teachers look like today. Among the highlights:

  • The average teacher today has 14 years of experience
  • That average teacher is a 42-year-old white woman, and male teachers are getting harder and harder to find
  • The average teacher works 53 hours in an average week
  • The number of Hispanic teachers is on the rise

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Jobs & College Degrees

Yes, some form of postsecondary education is important in today’s world and today’s economy. But as many continue to question the value of earning a four-year degree, it is equally important to understand the jobs that may be available to today’s – and tomorrow’s – high school graduates.

Over at Marketwatch, reporter Jillian Berman recently explored the 30 million or so jobs that are available without a four-year college degree. Berman found these jobs pay on average of $55,000 a year. And some of them may be surprising. Researchers are finding growth in areas such as:

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Spotlighting Students’ Readiness for #STEM

With more and more high schools emphasizing the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education for all of their students, an important issue has been raised. How does one effectively recognize those students who are excelling in STEM?

In Colorado and elsewhere, that question has been answered with an effort to add a STEM designation to high school diplomas. There, teachers came together to help better recognize those students who were meeting state benchmarks when it came to workforce readiness in technology and computing. So STEM seals were born.

But the idea comes with some controversy. As Stephen Sawchuk of Education Week recently reported:

STEM endorsements are still so new overall that there are few insights on how they will play out on the ground for students—and whether the new credentials will come to signify anything of value to employers or colleges.

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Community College and You!

We often think we “know” all about community colleges and two-year postsecondary institutions. But how much of what we know is truly supported by the facts?

Recently, the American Association of Community Colleges released a series of “fast facts” about community colleges today. And some of the data points may surprise you, including:

  • Community college students are getting younger, with more than half of all community college students now under the age of 21
  • Community colleges are currently serving a smaller portion of undergraduate students than in previous years
  • Two-thirds of all community college students rely on Pell grants to afford their postsecondary educations
  • Annual tuition and fees at community colleges only increased, on average, $90 in the past year
  • More than a third of all students enrolled at community colleges are the first in their families to seek a postsecondary education Read more

Is the College Degree Outdated?

Many in the education community speak of the importance of a postsecondary education for all of today’s learners, and rightfully so. As young people make the transition from school to career, there are many important lessons, skills, and experiences that postsecondary education provides.

It is important, though, to recognize that postsecondary education is not synonymous with a liberal arts college degree. As learners explore their interests and aptitudes and begin understanding the career pathways before them, a bachelor’s degree in a liberal arts discipline isn’t necessarily the key to future success.

The Hechinger Report recently explored this topic, as reporter Laura Pappano asked the question, “Is the college degree outdated?” In her piece, Pappano explored how many of today’s young people are recognizing that microcredentials, career certificates, and other forms of measureable educational attainment can make all the difference when moving from the student body to the workforce.

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