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Topic: CHECK --PART VII: To Touch the Future
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 15,669
Registered: 12/3/04
CHECK --PART VII: To Touch the Future
Posted: Jan 3, 2000 3:21 PM
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Note: This is PART VII of To Touch the Future. You should have received
PARTS I - VI earlier.
Reminder: The full report can be downloaded from

NUMBER 8: Special effort and further incentives will be needed to address
shortages in high-poverty schools, in special needs programs, in the
sciences, and among minority teachers.

Most teachers avoid teaching in high-poverty schools. Many fully prepared
graduates serve as substitutes in more affluent districts, or work outside
education until the job they want becomes available, rather than taking
positions in less affluent schools. High-poverty schools, whether
inner-city or rural, also have the largest number of unqualified teachers.
Most dramatically, 70 percent of seventh through 12th graders in these
schools were recently being taught physical science by unqualified
teachers. In the nation's schools as a whole, the figure is still high at
56 percent, but it is significantly lower than in the less wealthy schools.
(NCES, 1996c).

The inherent difficulties and emotional toll associated with teaching
students with special needs lead to attrition rates for special education
teachers that exceed those for general teachers by about one-third, and
more continuing teachers transfer out of special education than into
special education (Boe et al., 1997). One-third entering special education
teachers lack standard certification for their assignments, as do 10
percent of all practicing special education teachers (Boe et al., 1998).
Sidebar: If colleges and universities encouraged more teacher education
students to work in the field for which they were educated, the unmet
demand could be substantially reduced.
Competing wage prospects drive shortages in the sciences. College graduates
with degrees in mathematics, chemistry, physics, or computer science earn
considerably more than education majors (NCES, 1997b). As a result,
secondary school students in mathematics and science classes are much
less likely to have teachers with sufficient subject preparation than are
those in other subject matter classes.

Finally, despite general agreement that the teaching force should mirror
the nation's ethnic and racial diversity, only 13 percent of all teachers
are nonwhite. Students in the nation's schools, by contrast, are one-third
minority (Henke et al., 1997). This problem has two sources, according to
the most recent available data. First, nonwhites constitute just 17 percent
of each year's pool of college graduates, only about half the proportion of
minorities in the schools. Second, while about 8 percent of white college
graduates have gone into teaching immediately, only 6 percent of nonwhite
graduates have done so (Henke et al., 1996). There clearly is an unmet
national challenge to enroll more minority students in college and to
recruit minority students into the teaching profession.

NUMBER 9: Demand for new teachers can be reduced significantly by reducing
teacher attrition.

Each year, thousands of fully prepared young teachers leave their
classrooms to pursue other options. At best, five years after graduation,
only half of these teachers will remain in teaching, according to patterns
observed in 1994 (Henke, et al., 1996; NCES, 1997c). Some leave shortly
after beginning
as teachers, and many never enter teaching at all. Reducing teacher
attrition would lessen the pressure to hire new teachers.

Systematic efforts to support beginning teachers, often called "induction"
programs, can improve retention and develop skills. Early pilot programs in
California reduced attrition by two-thirds at sites where time was set
aside for interaction between a beginning teacher and a mentor, where
training was tailored to beginning teachers, and where mentor skills were
carefully developed (Gold, 1996). California and other states have put in
place incentives to ini-tiate such programs, often involving university
collaboration. In a recent survey, schools with lower teacher attrition
had a higher proportion of teachers who agreed with the statement "this
school is effective in assisting new teachers" than did higher attrition
schools. Where average agreement with the statement was high, the
probability of departure dropped by about 10 percent (Ingersoll, 1999).
Sidebar: There clearly is an unmet national challenge to enroll more
minority students in college and to recruit minority students into the
teaching profession.
Information about the report is available on the American Council of
Education's website:

Title: To Touch the Future - Transforming the Way Teachers Are Taught
Year: 1999
Published by: American Council on Education
One Dupont Circle NW
Washington, D.C. 20036-1193
Ordering: $15.00
[10 or more copies are $10 each, 100 or more copies are
$5 each.]
Orders must be prepaid by money order or check (made out
to the ACE) and sent to:

ACE Fulfillment Service
Department 191
Washington, D.C. 20055-0191

or call (301) 604-9073
The whole report can be downloaded from the website at . If you go to the website, you can see how to do

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618) 453-4244
Phone: (618) 453-4241 (office)
(618) 457-8903 (home)


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