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Dear Commons Community,
Between 2010 and 2012, enrollment fell in both undergraduate (nearly 11 percent) and graduate (more than 12 percent) teacher education programs in public and private nonprofit universities according to the National Center for Education Statistics. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required):
“The numbers don’t match overall enrollment trends. Undergraduate fall enrollment at four-year public and private nonprofit universities increased by more than 3 percent from 2010 to 2012. And according to survey results released by the Council of Graduate Schools in September, graduate enrollment at participating public and private nonprofit universities increased by an average of 0.7 percent annually from 2008 to 2013.
Among survey respondents, education had the greatest percentage decrease of all graduate programs from 2012 to 2013 (down 4.5 percent) and the greatest average annual percentage decline from 2008 to 2013 (down 3.4 percent)…
Data show that the paths students take to prepare for the teaching profession are changing. For-profit institutions have gobbled up an increasingly large share of students, as have online degree programs.
Enrollment in education programs at private, for-profit institutions has greatly increased in the past decade. From 2010 to 2012, enrollment in private, for-profit undergraduate education programs rose nearly 4 percent. Enrollment in for-profit graduate education programs decreased more than 21 percent but was still more than 50 percent higher than in 2004…
The recession hit [also] many school districts hard, and experts who spoke to The Chronicle believe layoffs and decreased hiring may have discouraged students from pursuing teaching careers.
“In the last few years, school districts have been cutting back on the number of teachers. There were layoffs in a number of areas, and hiring diminished, and the job market became less attractive,” said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and a former president of Columbia University’s Teachers College. “One of the things we’ve seen is that career changers who were interested in switching to teaching are less likely to do it now. The field seems too uncertain, and holding on to their current jobs seems appealing…
Mark LaCelle-Peterson, vice president for policy and programs at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, believes the numbers will rebound when the economy picks up.
“Enrollment in teacher-education programs has always been cyclical and somewhat responsive to the economy,” he said. “In the long term, it will be responsive to the job market. Right now we’re still projecting a need for quite a number of new teachers.”
The issues raised by these data should be of great interest and maybe concern to faculty and administrators in teacher education programs. I agree with Mark Lacelle-Peterson that enrollment in these programs is cyclical. However, careful planning including the development of online programs especially at the graduate level should be considered.