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2005 Spotlight

Mobility in the Teacher Workforce

What Are the Characteristics of New Hires?

Although new hires who transfer from one school to another change the distribution of individual teachers among individual schools, from a policy perspective, they do not change the overall profile of the teacher workforce because they do not affect the demographics or the level of training of the teacher workforce as a whole. In contrast, new hires who are new entrants into the teacher workforce (i.e., returning teachers, delayed entrants, and recent graduates) can raise, lower, or maintain the profile of the workforce in such dimensions. For some sense of how new hires change the workforce, this special analysis compares the average characteristics of new hires to continuing teachers. Because of the limitations of SASS data, it is not possible to compare the characteristics of newly hired teachers with those of the teachers they replaced, which is what one would need to do to measure the actual change in the profile of the workforce between two school years.18 In general, in the 1999–2000 school year, new hires were more likely to be young and to teach out-of-field than continuing teachers (table 2).19

Specifically, transfers tended to be younger than continuing teachers (38 vs. 43 years old) and less experienced (10 vs. 16 years of teaching experience). Delayed entrants and recent graduates were also younger, on average, than continuing teachers (33 and 27, respectively, vs. 43 years old) and, by definition (given that this was their first year of teaching), less experienced. Returning teachers were about the same age as continuing teachers (41 vs. 43 years old) but, as would be expected given their hiatus from teaching, were less experienced (11 vs. 16 years of teaching experience). Approximately 75 percent of the teachers were female, regardless of whether they were continuing teachers or any of these categories of new hires.

All four categories of new hires were more likely to teach out-of-field and less likely to have both a major and certification in the field of their main teaching assignment (i.e., henceforth referred to as “highly qualified”) than continuing teachers. However, delayed entrants stood out among new hires because they were more likely to teach out-of-field than any other category of new hires and more than three times as likely to do so as continuing teachers (38 vs. 11 percent). This high proportion of out-of-field teachers among delayed entrants is due to the fact that a greater percentage of delayed entrants than continuing teachers, transfers, or recent graduates were hired without majors in their main teaching assignments and with either no certification at all (19 vs. 6, 7, and 10 percent, respectively) or provisional/alternative certification20 (12 vs. 2, 6, and 7 percent, respectively) (table 3). Approximately 19 percent of both returning teachers and delayed entrants reported no certification, but returning teachers were less likely to have provisional/alternative certification than delayed entrants (6 vs. 12 percent).21

All of the four categories of new hires were less likely to be employed full time than continuing teachers (table 2). However, returning teachers were two to five times more likely than any other category of new hires to be employed as part-time teachers, and more likely to be employed as itinerant teachers than any other category except transfers (data not shown).22

The data in this section illustrate average characteristics of the different categories of new hires. However, it is important to keep in mind that these are aggregate averages, which means that within each of these categories of new hires there may be a wide range of variation. Likewise, it is important to remember that not all schools had the same proportions of these categories of new hires.


18For information on the limitations of SASS data, see note 3. (back to text)

19It is important to note that new hires are not the only source of change in the demographics and level of training of the teacher workforce: e.g., teachers age and gain more experience naturally over time; teachers who change assignments within a school may cease teaching subjects out of their field of training and start teaching in their field; and professional development and additional academic coursework can augment teachers’ knowledge and competence. (back to text)

20Some states and districts have developed provisional and alternative certification programs to provide a way for individuals to teach who (1) have not prepared for teaching as their initial occupation through regular teacher education programs and (2) do not meet regular certification requirements, but do have qualifications that the state or district deems adequate to teach a particular subject. In this analysis, teachers who held provisional/alternative certification, temporary certification, or emergency certification were considered out-of-field unless they majored in the field of their main teaching assignment. (back to text)

21For delayed entrants with no certification or with provisional/alternative certification to be classified in a category other than out-of-field, they would have to have majored in the subject they were hired to teach. (back to text)

22Among returning teachers, 10 percent accepted jobs as itinerant teachers versus 11 percent among transfers, 1 percent among delayed entrants, and 3 percent among recent graduates. (back to text)

Figures and Tables

Table 2: Average age, average years of experience, percentage female, percentage out-of-field, percentage with both a major and certification in field, and percentage working full time for public and private K–12 teachers, by employment background: 1999–2000

Table 3: Percentage distribution of public and private K–12 teachers by certification status, by employment background: 1999–2000

Table SA5: Standard errors for table 2: Average age, average years of experience, percentage female, percentage out-of-field, percentage with both a major and certification in field, and percentage working full time for public and private K–12 teachers, by employment background: 1999–2000

Table SA6: Standard errors for table 3: Percentage distribution of public and private K–12 teachers by certification status, by employment background: 1999–2000

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education