Changing Demographics in the Teacher Work Force

November 28, 2018

Seven Trends:  The Transformation of the Teaching Force—Updated October 2018

Teachers play a crucial role in education, make up one of the largest workforces in the country, and require significant resources to support. As a result, tracking trends and changes in the demographic characteristics becomes critically important as education systems allocate existing resources and plan for the future. This study examines the most recent data from staffing surveys conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), as well as those going back to 1987.  Its concludes that over the last three decades the teaching force has become: 1) larger, 2) grayer, 3) greener, 4) more female, 5) more diverse by race-ethnicity, 6) consistent in academic ability, and 7) unstable.  It also calls for more research as to the reasons for these trends and their implications and consequences.

A few highlights include: The rate of increase for teachers has far outpaced the rate of increase for students.  The student population has grown by 24% over this period of time while the teacher workforce has grown by 65%.  The workforce is growing both grayer (retirements have steadily increased) and greener (the modal public school teacher was in their first three years of teaching.  It is has an increasing percent of female teachers (76.6%) as well minority teachers (growth in the number of minority teachers was more than three times the growth rate of white teachers).  The field still suffers from extremely high turnover, with 44.6 % of new teachers leaving their jobs in less than five years.

Citation: Ingersoll, Richard M.; Merrill, Elizabeth; Stuckey, Daniel; and Collins, Gregory. (2018). Seven Trends: e Transformation of the Teaching Force – Updated October 2018. CPRE Research Reports.