NCES Teacher Demographic Data Paints Portrait of US Teacher

Even as the fallout from the lengthy recession continues to dissipate, a large percentage of teachers in K-12 classrooms continue to hold down multiple jobs in addition to carrying their teaching loads. According to a new report released by the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 20 percent of instructors combine their teaching work with another job elsewhere.

As of 2009, the latest year for which NCES has data, 71.6% of secondary school teachers have only a single full-time job. The rest are either employed in teaching part time or maintain other employment in addition to their classroom work. Seeking employment elsewhere isn’t the only way that many teachers working today spread themselves thin. A total of 22.8% of instructors are simultaneously pursuing either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, with nearly all of those pursuing education at the graduate level.

The report, titled Beginning K–12 Teacher Characteristics and Preparation by School Type, 2009looks at more than just teacher employment data. It also lays out demographic information about the racial, ethnic, economic and family background of people entrusted with educating America’s youth.

These Web Tables present estimates for the demographic characteristics and teaching preparation, including undergraduate coursetaking and certification, of 2007–08 baccalaureate degree recipients who taught at the K–12 level within a year of completing their bachelor’s degree. Teachers’ characteristics are shown both in comparison with nonteachers and by selected characteristics of the schools in which they were teaching or had most recently taught at the time of the 2009 interview. Schools are described in terms of the percentage of students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch and school location (rural, suburban/town, or urban), race/ethnicity, and sector (public and private). The data used in the analysis are from the 2009 first follow-up of the 2008 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/09), a nationally representative sample of 2007–08 bachelor’s degree recipients who were first interviewed just before graduation and again 1 year later.

As of 2009, the majority of the teachers employed in secondary school are female. Only 23% of all teachers are men, although 35.2% of STEM subjects instructors are male. The racial and ethnic breakdowns mirror those of the country fairly closely. Nearly 77% of teachers are white, 9.1% are Hispanic, 7.6% are black and 3.4% are Asian. Roughly 4% self-identify themselves as two or more races.

Data collected should raise concerns about the academic preparation of the teaching corps. Fewer than 13% of all teachers received credit at the college level for Advanced Placement exams, and a combined 51% were classified as having scored in the “Low” or “Low Middle” categories on the SAT. Approximately 74% of teachers came from  either “minimally selective”/open enrollment institutions or “moderately selective”; just 26.5% had a pedigree from a “very selective” college.

Public higher education systems continue to dominate the teacher preparation sector, with 77% of teachers beginning their training at 2- or 4-year public institutions; just 22% began at a private college.