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Status of Education in Rural America
NCES 2007-040
June 2007

3.8. Teaching experience


Compared with public school teachers in cities, rural public school teachers averaged more years of experience in 2003–04.

In the 2003–04 school year, the average amount of teaching experience for all public school teachers across the United States was 14.2 years (tables 3.8 and A-3.8). For rural public school teachers, the average was 14.5 years, which was greater than the average for public school teachers in cities (13.6 years), but not measurably different than the average for public school teachers in suburbs (14.1 years) and towns (15.1 years).

As these averages suggest, the majority of public school teachers have over 10 years of teaching experience. Nationally, 10 percent of public school teachers were beginning teachers (those with less than 3 years of teaching experience), 32 percent had between 3 and 9 years of teaching experience, 29 percent had between 10 and 20 years of teaching experience, and 28 percent had over 20 years of teaching experience.

The percentages of public school teachers in rural areas with these different levels of teaching experience were not significantly different from the national percentages. When compared with the percentages of public school teachers in these categories of experience in other locales, rural public school teachers were different in two ways: a smaller percentage had between 3 and 9 years of teaching experience (30 percent) than public school teachers in suburbs (33 percent) and cities (34 percent), and a larger percentage had over 20 years of teaching experience (30 percent) than public school teachers in cities (27 percent).

Comparing the national averages for public elementary, middle, and high school teachers reveals no measurable differences in the average years of teaching experience. When locale is considered, however, a difference can be found between public elementary school teachers in rural areas and in cities (15 vs. 13 years of teaching experience), but not between public middle or high school teachers in rural areas and cities (see table 3.8). A greater percentage of public elementary school teachers in rural areas had more than 20 years of experience than in cities or suburban areas (30 vs. 25 percent each). No such difference was detected between public middle school or high school teachers from the various locales, with the exception that a larger percentage of middle school teachers in towns had over 20 years of teaching experience than middle school teachers in rural areas (33 vs. 28 percent).

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