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Teacher qualifications

Question:
Do you have any information on the qualifications of teachers in their teaching assignments?

Response:

The report Certification Status and Experience of U.S. Public School Teachers: Variations Across Student Subgroups provides a snapshot of the extent to which U.S. public school students are taught by certified and experienced teachers. The report uses two datasets available to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). SASS provides a comprehensive picture, as it includes teachers of K12 students in all subjects. NAEP provides a picture specific to grades 4 and 8. In addition, NAEP data are directly related to teachers of two key subjects: reading and mathematics. SASS data are available for the 201112 school year and NAEP data are available for 2013 and 2015.

Teacher Certification

At least 90 percent of the nation's public school students, at the primary and secondary levels, were taught by teachers with state certification in the years studied: 201112, 2013, and 2015. However, the percentage differed by various school and student characteristics and across various jurisdictions.

Based on the SASS data, the percentage of students taught by a state-certified teacher1 in the 201112 school year was about 94 or 95 percent in each of the four school locale categories (i.e., city, suburb, town, and rural) and between 89 and 99 percent in each of the states with reportable data. In the 201112 school year, the percentage of public school students taught by a certified teacher did not vary by students' disability status, English language learner status, or grade level (i.e., primary, middle, and high school). However, differences existed between the percentages of middle grade and high school students who were taught by a teacher certified in their specific subject area. Specifically, a larger percentage of high school students than middle school students were taught by a teacher certified in the subject area in which they were teaching for English, mathematics, science, and social science classes.

Based on the NAEP data, nationally, 92 percent of 4th-graders and 90 percent of 8th-graders in 2015 were taught by a state-certified mathematics teacher.2 The percentages were 93 percent and 92 percent for grades 4 and 8, respectively, in 2013. However, in each grade, the percentages differed across states and urban school districts, and by various school and student characteristics.3

In 2015, the percentage of students who had a mathematics teacher with state certification ranged from 61 percent in Ohio to almost 100 percent in Alabama in 4th grade and from 59 percent in the District of Columbia to 99 percent in Nebraska in 8th grade.

Teacher Experience

At least 75 percent of students had a teacher with more than 5 years of experience in the 201112 school year. Based on the NAEP data, nationally, 92 percent of 4th-graders and 90 percent of 8th-graders in 2015 were taught by a state-certified mathematics teacher.4 The percentages were 93 percent and 92 percent for grades 4 and 8, respectively, in 2013. As with teacher certification, the percentage differed by various school and student characteristics and across various jurisdictions.

According to the SASS data, a larger percentage of primary school students (82 percent) than high school students (79 percent) had a teacher with more than 5 years of experience in the 201112 school year.

Based on the NAEP data, about 76 percent of 4th-graders and about 75 percent of 8th-graders had a mathematics teacher with more than 5 years of experience in 2015. However, these percentages differed among states, large cities, and urban school districts and by various school and student characteristics. In 2015, the percentage of students who had a mathematics teacher with more than 5 years of experience ranged from 54 percent in the District of Columbia to 87 percent in Rhode Island in 4th grade and from 50 percent in the District of Columbia to 89 percent in Alaska and Maine in 8th grade.


1 For SASS, teachers are counted as certified if they reported having a "regular or standard state certificate or advanced professional certificate" or "certificate issued after satisfying all requirements except the completion of a probationary period."

2 For NAEP, teachers are counted as state certified if they responded "Yes, I hold a permanent certificate" to the question "Do you hold a regular or standard certificate that is valid in the state in which you are currently teaching?" Other response options were "Yes, I hold a temporary certificate. (This type of certificate may require additional coursework, student teaching, etc.)," "No, but I am currently working toward certification," and "No, and I am not planning to obtain certification."

3 Selected large urban schools districts participate in the NAEP assessments. These large urban districts are referred to as the Trial Urban District Assessment districts, or TUDA districts.

4 For NAEP, teachers are counted as state certified if they responded "Yes, I hold a permanent certificate" to the question "Do you hold a regular or standard certificate that is valid in the state in which you are currently teaching?" Other response options were "Yes, I hold a temporary certificate. (This type of certificate may require additional coursework, student teaching, etc.)," "No, but I am currently working toward certification," and "No, and I am not planning to obtain certification."

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2017). Certification Status and Experience of U.S. Public School Teachers: Variations Across Student Subgroups (NCES 2017-056).

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