Teachers' preservice learning and teaching assignment are the first features of the teacher quality model presented in this report. Aspects of preservice learning and teaching assignment (e. g., completion of a teacher education program, course work or earned degree(s) beyond the baccalaureate, and possession of some kind of certification or credential) have traditionally been used to characterize teacher preparation and qualifications. Preservice learning occurs prior to entering the classroom. 4 Teaching assignment is investigated to determine the match (or lack thereof) between teachers' training and the main subject areas that they are assigned to teach. Growing concern that a number of the nation's teachers are underqualified to teach our children has focused attention on the quality of their preservice learning, and especially on the institutions that prepare prospective teachers. These institutions have been criticized for treating the education programs as "cash cows which are conducted on a shoestring and used to fund programs in other fields" (NCTAF, 1997: 31). Critics argue that schools of education should be more "intellectually solid" and more connected to elementary and secondary schools (Holmes Group, 1986: 2). For example, colleges and universities should improve the screening process of teacher candidates to weed out weak students (Holmes Group, 1986), and these prospective teachers should be required to have academic majors in the fields they will eventually teach (Ravitch, 1998).
Criticisms have also been launched at certification policies. Critics argue that setting standards and not enforcing them has increased the number of underqualified teachers in American schools. These concerns were reflected in a recent speech by Education Secretary Richard Riley to the National Press Club (September 1998). In that speech, Secretary Riley implored the nation's colleges and universities to do a better job of preparing teachers and challenged every state to eliminate emergency certification.
Finally, concern over underqualified teachers has led to increased attention toward the problem of out-of-field teaching. In order for teachers to provide the highest quality learning experiences for students, they must first understand and be able to communicate the subject matter. The number of students being taught by untrained and unprepared teachers has triggered researchers, practitioners, and others vested in education to search for solutions. Most realize that "knowledge of subject matter and of pedagogical methods do not, of course, guarantee quality teachers nor quality teaching, but they are necessary prerequisites" (U. S. Department of Education, 1996b: 2). The lack of continuity between a teacher's training and a teacher's assignment leaves students learning from teachers that have not met those prerequisites.
Researchers have debated the reasons why teachers are assigned to teach out of field. As summarized by Ingersoll (1998), some believe that there are not enough teachers who are adequately trained in academic coursework. Others propose that teacher unions force schools to retain older, less competent teachers and to subject new, more qualified teachers to cutbacks. Finally, some researchers believe that shortages in teacher supply force schools to hire teachers with lower qualifications. Ingersoll proposes that the low status and low pay teachers receive contributes to high turnover rates. To deal with the frequent vacancies, he argues, schools are reduced to assigning teachers to out-of-field classes (Ingersoll, 1998). These conditions may also contribute to the number of teachers granted emergency certification. This FRSS report addresses the incidences of out-of-field teaching and emergency certification, but does not seek explanations for these phenomena.
This chapter addresses the following indicators of preservice learning: education, certification, and the match between teachers' preparation and teaching assignment— in-field versus out-of-field teaching. Each of these issues is discussed in more detail below.
Teacher education is the first measure of preservice learning addressed in this report. The type of degree held by a teacher is one measure used to determine teacher qualifications. Holding at least a bachelor's degree was once considered adequate, but today teachers often are expected to hold advanced degrees. As discussed earlier, this expectation has been accompanied by a push for teachers, particularly those teaching in secondary schools, to have an academic major, rather than a major in the study of education. In fact, since 1986 about 300 colleges have created extended teacher education programs that enable students to obtain both a bachelor's degree in an academic field and a master's degree in education (Darling-Hammond, 1998). In 1998, virtually all full-time public school teachers had a bachelor's degree, nearly half (45 percent) had a master's degree, and 1 percent had a doctorate ( Table B-2). 5 The likelihood of a teacher having a master's degree varied somewhat by the school instructional level and the number of years of teaching experience (Figure 1 and Table B-2). A higher percentage of teachers who taught at the high school level had master's degrees (55 percent) than did those teaching in middle schools (46 percent) and those teaching in elementary schools (40 percent). The likelihood of holding a master's degree increased with the number of years of teaching experience. Thus, teachers with 3 or fewer years of teaching experience were the least likely to have a master's degree (16 percent), compared with 31 percent of teachers with 4 to 9 years of experience, 48 percent of teachers with 10 to 19 years of experience, and 62 percent of those with 20 or more years of teaching experience. 6 This is not surprising, given that many states and districts have long required that a teacher earn a master's degree or its equivalent within a specified period of time.
Having a master's degree also varied by the concentration of poverty in the school (as defined by the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch). Teachers in schools with higher concentrations of poverty were generally less likely to hold master's degrees than were teachers in schools with low concentrations of poverty (Figure 1 and Table B-2). For example, 37 percent of the teachers in the highest poverty schools had master's degrees compared with 57 percent in the lowest poverty schools. The likelihood of having a master's degree also varied by geographic region, with 60 percent of teachers in the Northeast and 51 percent of teachers in the Midwest having master's degrees, compared with 38 percent in the West and 39 percent in the South. These 1998 findings paralleled those from 1993-94, 7 where similar patterns emerged (Figure 2 and Table C-3) 8.
Among the full-time public school teachers in the 1998 study, 38 percent had an undergraduate or graduate major in an academic field, 18 percent had a major in subject area education (i. e., the teaching of an academic field, such as mathematics education), 37 percent had a major in general education, and 7 percent had a major in other education fields (e. g., special education, curriculum and instruction, Figure 1 or educational administration; Table 1). For these analyses, each teacher was only counted once, even if he or she had more than one major or more than one degree. Major fields of study were selected in the order of academic field, subject area education, other education, and general education. See appendix A for a more detailed discussion of how this measure was calculated and tables that show duplicated majors.
The percentages with majors in various fields varied by the instructional level of the school and years of teaching experience. While 58 percent of elementary school teachers majored in general education, 27 percent of middle school teachers and only 5 percent of high school teachers had general education majors. More high school teachers had an undergraduate or graduate major in an academic field (66 percent), compared with elementary school teachers (22 percent) and middle school teachers (44 percent). In addition, more high school and middle school teachers majored in subject area education (29 and 22 percent, respectively) than did elementary school teachers (9 percent). The newest teachers (i. e., those with 3 or fewer years of teaching experience) were more likely to have majored in an academic field than were any of the more experienced teachers. Thus, half of the teachers with 3 or fewer years of experience had majored in an academic field, compared with 32 to 41 percent of the more experienced teachers, perhaps reflecting the recent emphasis in teacher education on majoring in an academic field rather than in education. The 1993-94 data showed the same patterns for instructional level (Table 2). That is, most middle and high school teachers majored in an academic field or subject area education, Figure 2 and most elementary school teachers majored in general education. 9
Teachers' certification status, the second measure of preservice learning examined in this report, is also an indication of teachers' qualifications. In addition to requirements for formal education (e. g., a bachelor's degree), teacher certification includes clinical experiences (e. g., student teaching) and often some type of formal testing. Most of the full-time public school teachers in 1998 were fully certified in the field of their main teaching assignment; that is, they had either a regular or standard state certificate, or an advanced professional certificate in the field in which they taught most often. Among teachers in general elementary classrooms,10 93 percent had a regular or advanced certificate, 3 percent had a provisional certificate, 2 percent a probationary certificate, 1 percent a temporary certificate, and 1 percent had an emergency certificate or waiver (Tables 3 and B-4). No general elementary classroom teachers in this study indicated that they were teaching without any kind of certification. Most departmentalized teachers also were fully certified in their main teaching assignment field; 92 percent indicated that they had a regular or advanced certificate in the field in which they taught the most courses (Tables 3 and B-5). For the main teaching assignment, 4 percent of the departmentalized teachers had a provisional certificate, 2 percent had a probationary certificate, 1 percent had a temporary certificate, and 1 percent had an emergency certificate or waiver. Less than 0.5 percent of the departmentalized teachers in this study indicated that they were teaching in their main assignment field without any kind of certification. These findings on teachers' certification status essentially replicated those of the 1993-94 study (Tables 4, C-4, and C-5). 11
Data from both the 1998 and 1993-94 studies indicated that possessing a regular, standard, or advanced certificate was positively related to years of teaching experience. Almost all teachers in both studies who had been teaching for 10 or more years, whether in general elementary classrooms or in departmentalized settings, were fully certified in their main teaching assignment, and most of the teachers who had been teaching 4 to 9 years were also fully certified (Figures 3 and 4, and Tables B-2, B-4, C-4a , and C-5 ). Teachers with 3 or fewer years of experience teaching in both general elementary classrooms and departmentalized settings, however, were much less likely to have a regular, standard, or advanced certificate than were more experienced teachers. Since some states require new teachers to start with probationary certification, all new teachers without regular certification are not necessarily less well qualified than those with regular certification. In 1998, most teachers with 3 or fewer years of experience who did not have regular certification had provisional or probationary certification ( B-4 and B-5). However, emergency and temporary certification was higher among teachers with 3 or fewer years of experience compared to teachers with more teaching experience. For example, in 1998, 12 percent of general elementary classroom teachers with 3 or fewer years of experience had emergency or temporary certification, whereas less than 1 percent of general elementary classroom teachers with 10 or more years of experience had emergency or temporary certification (not shown in tables). The results are similar for departmentalized teachers.
Teaching Assignment: In-Field Teaching
The final measure of teacher preparation and qualifications addressed in this chapter is teaching assignment. Specifically, the FRSS survey measured the match between teachers' training and teaching assignment in the main assignment field—in-field versus out-of-field teaching. According to Ingersoll (U.S. Department of Education, 1996b), one of the least recognized causes of underqualified teachers is the problem of out-of-field teaching: teachers being assigned to teach subjects that do not match their training or education. Findings from Ingersoll's analysis of the 1990-91 Schools and Staffing Survey showed that nearly a third of all high school math teachers had neither a major nor a minor in mathematics or mathematics education. In addition, almost a quarter of all high school English teachers had neither a major nor a minor in English, literature, communications, speech, journalism, English education, or reading education (U.S. Department of Education, 1996c). Thus, as Ingersoll concludes, a large percentage of high school students were taught by teachers without basic qualifications in the subjects they taught (Ingersoll, 1998).
The 1998 survey and the 1993-94 survey provided data on teaching assignment and teacher education. Calculated the same way for both sets of data, a measure of in-field teaching was constructed to compare the fields in which fulltime public school teachers had undergraduate and graduate majors and minors with the fields in which they had their main teaching assignments (i.e., the field in which they reported that they taught the most courses).12 This measure was constructed for any teacher who taught English/language arts, foreign language, social studies/social science, mathematics, or science in a departmentalized setting in any of grades 7 through 12. Results are presented separately for grades 7 through 12 and grades 9 through 12, since there are different definitions of what constitutes secondary schooling. Because the questionnaire collected information about degrees and teaching assignments at the aggregated field level (i.e., whether a teacher had degrees or taught courses in science, rather than in chemistry or physics), the in-field teaching measure is also constructed at this level of aggregation. Teachers were defined as teaching in field if they had an undergraduate or graduate major or minor in the field of their main teaching assignment. It is important to note that teachers may become qualified to teach a subject in ways that are not measured by college majors and minors. A teacher may take substantial coursework in a field without having an actual major or minor in the field.13 Details of how the measure of in-field teaching was constructed are provided in appendix A.
The measure of in-field teaching that is presented here differs from some of the other measures frequently seen in publications on this subject. Measures usually focus on out-of-field teaching as a measure of the mismatch between teacher assignment and teacher education. For example, Ingersoll (U.S. Department of Education, 1996a) defined an out-of-field teacher as a teacher teaching one or more mathematics, science, social studies, or English classes without at least an undergraduate or graduate-level major or minor in the particular subject. Another approach to studying out-of-field teaching is to examine the proportion of students being taught by out-of-field teachers. In this case, Ingersoll (U.S. Department of Education, 1996b) examined the percentage of public secondary school students enrolled in 1990-91 in classes taught by teachers without at least a college minor in the field. In contrast, the measure presented here looks at the main teaching assignments of teachers (i.e., the field in which they taught the most courses). Because FRSS questionnaires are short and designed for quick response, information was not collected at a detailed level about all the courses taught. In addition, the relatively small sample size of the FRSS survey precludes examination of in-field teaching for the secondary teaching assignment, because too few teachers in the sample had a secondary teaching assignment to conduct these analyses.
While examination of in-field teaching in the main teaching assignment gives a general indication of the magnitude of the match between teachers' training and teaching assignment, it does not provide the entire picture, and understates the magnitude of the problem. For example, Bobbitt and McMillen (U.S. Department of Education, 1994b) found that if the focus was restricted to main assignment field contrasted against teachers' college major or minor and certification status, then almost all teachers were qualified to teach in their main assignment field. However, if the focus was changed to include all the classes taught by each teacher, then many fewer teachers were fully qualified to teach in each class subject they were assigned to teach during the day. Thus, it is important to remember when reading the results presented below that the total magnitude of the mismatch between teacher assignment and teacher education is greater than that shown by the results for the main teaching assignment only.
In-Field Teaching Among Teachers in Grades 7 through 12. The percent of 1998 full-time public school teachers in grades 7 through 12 who reported having an undergraduate or graduate major or minor in their main teaching assignment field ranged from 82 percent of mathematics teachers to 96 percent of foreign language teachers (Tables 5, and B-7). Comparable data from 1993-94 showed a somewhat similar distribution. The percent of the 1993-94 teachers in grades 7 through 12 who reported having an undergraduate major or minor in their main teaching assignment field ranged from 77 percent of mathematics teachers to 93 percent of the foreign language teachers (Table 6 and C-7 ). In-field teaching for the main teaching assignment in grades 7 through 12 was higher in the 1998 study than in the 1993-94 study for English and science.
A key issue in the literature on equity concerns in educational quality is the extent to which infield/ out-of-field teaching varies by certain school characteristics. Research has found that schools with factors such as a high concentration of poverty or location in an urban or central city area are more likely than more affluent or suburban schools to have higher rates of out-of-field teaching (U.S. Department of Education, 1996b). The 1998 and 1993-94 data showed some variations in the amount of in-field teaching in the main assignment field by these characteristics. The data in Tables 5 and B-7 and 6 are presented differently than in other tables to allow comparisons among schools by characteristics often targeted in equity research.
In 1998, differences by poverty concentration or percent minority enrollment in the school in the prevalence of in-field teaching for main assignment field were not statistically significant for teachers in grades 7 through 12 (Table 5). In-field teaching in science differed by school locale for the 1998 teachers. Science teachers were somewhat less likely to be teaching in field in their main assignment field in schools located in central cities than in schools located in urban fringe, town, or rural areas. The 1993-94 data found that English/language arts teachers were less likely to be teaching in field for their main assignment field in schools with the highest concentration of poverty (as defined by 60 percent or more of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch) than were English teachers in schools where less than 60 percent of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (Tables 6 and C-7). No significant differences were found by locale or percent minority enrollment in the school for 1993-94 teachers in grades 7 through 12.14
In-Field Teaching Among Teachers in Grades 9 through 12. In-field teaching was also examined separately for teachers in grades 9 through 12, since there are different definitions of what constitutes secondary schooling. The percent of 1998 fulltime public school teachers in grades 9 through 12 who reported having a major or minor in their main teaching assignment fields was 90 percent for mathematics teachers, 94 percent for science teachers, and 96 percent for teachers of English/language arts, foreign language, and social studies/social science (Tables 7 and B-8). Comparable 1993-94 data showed a somewhat similar distribution. The percent of 1993-94 teachers who reported having a major or minor in their main teaching assignment fields ranged from 87 percent of mathematics teachers to 93 percent of the foreign language teachers (Tables 8 and C-8 ). In-field teaching for the main assignment field in grades 9 through 12 was higher in the 1998 study than in the 1993-94 study for English, social studies, and science. In addition, for both 1998 and 1993-94, the percent of teachers who reported having an undergraduate or graduate major or minor in their main teaching assignment field was significantly lower for teachers of grades 7 through 12 than for teachers of grades 9 through 12 for mathematics, science, English/ language arts, and social studies/social sciences, indicating that teachers in grades 7 and 8 are less likely to be teaching in field than are teachers in grades 9 through 12.
Differences by poverty concentration, locale, or percent minority enrollment in the school in the prevalence of in-field teaching for main teaching assignment were not statistically significant for 1998 teachers in grades through 9 through 12. Mathematics teachers in 1993-94 were less likely to be teaching in field in their main assignment area in schools with the highest minority enrollment. No significant differences were found by locale or poverty concentration in the school for 1993-94 teachers in grades 9 through 12.
This chapter on preservice learning and teaching assignment began with a description of the concerns and critiques of the current training received by prospective teachers. Criticisms focused on three features of their training and placement—teachers' education, certification, and teaching assignment. In many ways, this report does not address the heart of these critiques—the quality of the teacher education programs that train teachers. This report is about teachers, not the programs and institutions that train them. However, this study did investigate three basic concerns that have received growing attention—that teachers do not have academic majors, that many teachers may not be fully certified, and that a large number of educators are teaching subjects for which they have not received training.
The 1998 study found that 38 percent of the teachers had an undergraduate or graduate major in an academic field. Among high schoolteachers, however, the percentages were much higher, with two-thirds of high school teachers having majored in an academic field. However, only 22 percent of elementary school teachers had majored in an academic field. These findings paralleled those from 1993-94, where the same patterns emerged. In addition, the 1998 and1993-94 studies indicated that most teachers were fully certified (with a regular or standard state certificate, or an advanced professional certificate) in the field of their main teaching assignment. Not surprisingly, however, results of the 1998 and 1993-94 surveys indicated that new teachers were less likely than more experienced teachers to have regular certification.
Results of the 1998 survey suggest that teachers possess many of the basic prerequisites for teaching—advanced degrees and the appropriate certification and education. Most teachers in grades 7 through 12 have a major or minor in their main teaching assignment field. As suggested earlier, teaching is complex, and the demands continue to change and grow. Meeting these challenges requires teachers to be lifelong learners. Much of their learning, after initial preservice training, takes place on the job. This type of learning is the focus of the next chapter of this report.