Despite persistent shortage areas, Texas’ production of newly certified teachers has held steady during the past two years.
Since the devastating budget and staffing cuts in the 2011–2012 school year, new production has been slowly inching upwards. This is not to say that our production levels are anywhere near what we need to serve the nearly 68,000 new students added last year—but the numbers are moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, not all of the newly certified teachers seek or find employment. On average, about 25 percent of all newly certified teachers do not end up employed in a Texas school the following year.
Source: Texas Education Agency (TEA)
Where the new teachers come from
When alternative certification programs were first introduced in the mid-1990s, the idea was met with vigorous opposition by many professional educators. Some school boards even adopted policies to prohibit the employment of any teacher who held an alternative certificate.
Today, alternative certification programs produce the lion’s share of all new teachers and it is hard to imagine where we would be without them. As enrollment in traditional university programs declines, alternative certification has been picking up the slack. In 2014–2015, 43 percent of all newly certified teachers came from alternative certification programs. In 2015–2016, that number has climbed to 53 percent. An added bonus is that alternative certification programs produce more minority candidates than traditional programs and have higher employment rates for their graduates.
New Certified Teachers by Preparation Route (2015–2016)
STEM teacher shortage lingers
Production of new math teachers was down at last count—from 2,113 in 2013–2014 to 1,904 in 2015–2016—but the numbers show a very slight uptick in new science teachers—from 1,504 to 1,555. These numbers are even more concerning in light of the fact that Texas has nearly 3,500 secondary schools. Shortage areas lead to more teachers teaching outside of their field of certification. The total number of out-of-field teachers reported last school year was nearly 7 percent. In high school math, the number teaching out of field was 11.8 percent and in computer science it was 16.2 percent.
Attrition means the loss of employees. In this analysis, the data reflects teachers leaving Texas public schools altogether. New hires are employed teachers with no previous teaching experience in Texas schools. Other teachers have one or more years of experience teaching in Texas schools. Average attrition rates have been holding steady for the past five years, but attrition rates have been clearly higher for new hires than for experienced teachers for the last four years, indicating a need for greater support for beginning teachers.
Overall, the current data available on production of new teachers in Texas indicates that the shortage is not getting worse—nor is it getting better. These numbers certainly have nothing to do with the issue of teacher quality. The need to improve the conditions of teaching as a rewarding professional career continues.