High Stakes Causing Teacher Enrollments Crisis

A crisis has been brewing in education since 2008. Teacher-preparation programs have been seeing declining numbers of enrollments, and declining number of graduates, all at a time when record number of experienced teachers are leaving the profession either through retirement or seeking second careers. 

The national problem shown in the chart above is also being replicated here in Ohio. According to Federal title 2 data, in the 2011-2012 academic year, 6768 individuals completed teacher preparation programs at one of 51 Ohio institutions. In the 2015 report, just 6066 individuals completed teacher preparation programs.

Even the Dispatch has noticed

The number of newly awarded bachelor’s degrees in education has dropped by more than one-fourth in Ohio since the 2003-04 school year, challenging the state’s reputation as a fount of new teachers.

Given the historical surplus, that might be OK, except that the prospective new teachers aren’t seeking degrees in the specialties in which they’re needed most. That leaves school districts scrambling for teachers each year, especially in middle and high school math and science, plus foreign languages, physical education and other areas.

In 2003-04, Ohio’s public and private, nonprofit colleges and universities awarded 55,207 bachelor’s degrees, and 6,759 of them, or 12.2 percent, were in education. By 2014-15, the number of bachelor’s degrees had risen to 69,592, but only 4,983 were in education, shrinking the share of education degrees to 7.3 percent.

It is no surprise that enrollments and hence graduations are down. For a while corporate education reformers could blame the great recession, but now, years after recovery, the problem continues to deteriorate. Corporate reformers have created a less attractive work environment that is clearly unable to recruit enough high quality individuals. 

Nobody went in to education to suffer the joys of high-stakes anything. That much should now be obvious to everyone. What good does having high stakes do, when it drives away the very educators who are desperately needed to do the work?