Thursday, June 09, 2005

U.S. Dept. Of Ed: The Condition of Education 2005

The United States Department of Education has updated its congressionally-mandated report on the state of education in America. One key excerpt from the press release:

That report shows that 17 percent of teachers in 1999-2000 started the school year as new hires at their school, but the majority of those new hires had previous teaching experience. Public school teachers in high-poverty schools were about twice as likely as their counterparts in low-poverty schools to transfer to another school following the 1999-2000 school year. Other findings of The Condition:The percentages of fourth- and eighth-graders who read at the proficient level or above on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) increased between 1992 and 2003.

  • From 1990 to 2003, the math performance of fourth- and eighth-graders, as measured by NAEP, improved steadily.

  • Between 1990 and 2002, total expenditures per student in public elementary and secondary schools increased by 24 percent in constant dollars.

  • Tuition and fees per student in degree-granting public two- and four-year post-secondary institutions increased by 99 percent between 1970 and 2001 in constant dollars.

The entire report, The Condition of Education 2005, is available here. There is lots of interesting reading in this year's special analysis entitled, Mobility in the Teacher Workforce. Here is just one tasty tidbit about why teachers leave the Craft.

There are numerous reasons for teachers to leave their school in a given year, but teachers reported some reasons more frequently than others. When leavers were asked in the 2000–01 Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) to identify which of 17 factors were “very important” in their decision to leave teaching, they most commonly identified retirement (20 percent), followed by family reasons (16 percent), pregnancy/child rearing (14 percent), wanting a better salary and benefits (14 percent), and wanting to pursue a different kind of career (13 percent).

Among the factors least often reported as “very important” in their decision to leave were teachers’ perceptions that the “school received little support from the community” and that there were too many policy changes at the school (both about 2 percent).

Besides asking teachers what factors influenced their decision to leave, the 2000–01 TFS also asked them how satisfied they were with various features of the school they left. The five most commonly reported sources of dissatisfaction among teachers who transferred to another school were lack of planning time (65 percent), too heavy a workload (60 percent), too low a salary (54 percent), problematic student behavior (53 percent), and a lack of influence over school policy (52 percent).

Among leavers, the five most commonly reported sources of dissatisfaction were a lack of planning time (60 percent), too heavy a workload (51 percent), too many students in a classroom (50 percent), too low a salary (48 percent), and problematic student behavior (44 percent) (see table 6).

Examining the sources of dissatisfaction among out-of-field teachers and highly qualified teachers who left teaching reveals that a greater percentage of out-of-field teachers than highly qualified teachers reported dissatisfaction with salary (62 vs. 42 percent), while a greater percentage of highly qualified teachers than out-of-field teachers reported dissatisfaction with lack of planning time (64 vs. 49 percent).

As a practicing classroom teacher in California, I can attest to the fact that rate of compensation for this state's teachers have not kept pace with inflation. Yet accountability and performance expectations have substantially increased. This translates to low teacher morale, which directly contributes to high teacher turnover.
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