Too many (would-be) elementary teachers

State Output

Some states produce enough elementary teachers to fill anticipated openings, but others produce twice as many as needed—or more.

Supply Demand Percent Difference
Colorado 1,169 1,099 106%
Connecticut 701 600 117
Delaware 373 122 306
Illinois 9,982 1,073 930
Kentucky 1,275 730 175
Louisiana 1,033 650 159
Maryland 1,011 723 140
Massachusetts 1,175 1,051 112
Michigan 2,903 1,227 236
Minnesota 1,179 709 166
Mississippi 751 660 114
New York 6,498 2,800 232
Pennsylvania 6,048 1,420 426
Tennessee 1,970 1,380 143

In many states, colleges are churning out too many would-be elementary teachers, reports Education Week.

New York and Michigan prepared twice as many elementary teachers as needed in 2011-12. Pennsylvania turned out four new graduates for every job opening. Illinois issued nine new elementary-teacher certificates in 2009 for every one first-time teacher hired in 2010.

By contrast, Colorado and Michigan produce just enough new elementary teachers to meet demand. (That’s assuming nobody moves from Illinois and Pennsylvania.)

Colleges should be more selective about admitting teacher candidates and train them more intensively, argues the National Council on Teacher Quality.

“We could improve, enhance, and extend the quality of teacher preparation, and therefore produce better-qualified new teacher graduates, but probably fewer in number,” agrees Arthur E. Wise, former president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Prospective elementary teachers have lower academic qualifications than other college graduates, concludes a 2007 Educational Testing Service report. (Secondary teachers have higher-than-average test scores.)

“We could raise the bar and get teachers with higher aptitudes in classrooms and still have plenty of elementary teachers,” (NCTQ’s Arthur) McKee said.

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  1. Wow, you mean schools might actually get to be selective in who they hire? Why is this a bad thing? Competition in hiring would be much more effective than more restrictive admissions in improving teacher quality.

    • cranberry says:

      Why not do both? Preparing 3 to 9 times as many teachers as the market needs is pretty rough on the less appealing candidates.

      Doctors and lawyers control the number of new doctors and lawyers, through rigorous admissions and exams. There is still an oversupply of lawyers, but part of that oversupply stems from market conditions. The demand for teachers is more predictable.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Actually, we have an ovrersupply of lawyers because law schools are great cash cow programs for colleges. Accounting (AICPAs) and engineering are fields where supply is sucessfully restricted. Medical programs are very expensive, which is probably why there is no huge glut of MDs.