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Education Across America

Teachers of English Learners in Rural Public and Private Schools

Last Updated: May 2024
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In school year 2020–21, about 49 percent of public school teachers in rural areas had at least one English learner (EL) in their class. Among public school teachers with at least one EL student in their class, a lower percentage of teachers in rural areas (7 percent) than in suburban areas (10 percent) and cities (12 percent) had a major, minor, or certification in English as a Second Language.
This indicator presents data on teachers who serve English learners (ELs) in rural public and private schools.1 Using data from the 2020–21 National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), this indicator examines differences by locale in the qualifications of teachers of ELs.2 For information on how teacher credentials vary by school locale overall, see Teacher Credentials, Experience, and Salary. For information on the enrollment of students identified as ELs in public schools, see English Learners and Students with Disabilities in Rural Public Schools.

Select a subgroup characteristic from the drop-down menu below to view relevant text and figures.

Locale
Figure 1. Among public school teachers whose main teaching assignment was English as a Second Language (ESL), percentage who had a major, minor, or certification in ESL, by school locale: School year 2020–21
Figure 1. Among public school teachers whose main teaching assignment was English as a Second Language (ESL), percentage who had a major, minor, or certification in ESL, by school locale: School year 2020–21

Note: Data are based on a head count of full-time and part-time teachers rather than on the number of full-time-equivalent teachers. Includes teachers who reported a relevant major for any of various types of certificates or degrees (vocational certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, second bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, second master’s degree, education specialist/professional diploma, certificate of advanced graduate studies, or doctorate or first professional degree); a relevant minor for a bachelor’s degree; or a relevant content area for a teaching certificate.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Teacher Data File” and “Private School Teacher Data File,” 2020–21. See Digest of Education Statistics 2021, table 209.42.

In school year 2020–21, English as a Second Language (ESL) was the main teaching assignment of 1 percent of public school teachers in rural areas. Among public school teachers in rural areas whose main teaching assignment was ESL, 88 percent had a major, minor, or certification3 in ESL. This percentage was not measurably different from the percentages for public school teachers in cities, suburban areas, and towns.4
Figure 2. Among public and private school teachers who had at least one English learner (EL) student in their class, percentage who had a major, minor, or certification in English as a Second Language (ESL) and percentage who had taken any courses (prior to their first year of teaching) on how to teach EL students, by school control and school locale: School year 2020–21
Figure 2. Among public and private school teachers who had at least one English learner (EL) student in their class, percentage who had a major, minor, or certification in English as a Second Language (ESL) and percentage who had taken any courses (prior to their first year of teaching) on how to teach EL students, by school control and school locale: School year 2020–21

!Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.

‡Reporting standards not met. Either there are too few cases for a reliable estimate or the coefficient of variation (CV) is 50 percent or greater.

1 Includes teachers who reported a relevant major for any of various types of certificates or degrees (vocational certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, second bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, second master’s degree, education specialist/professional diploma, certificate of advanced graduate studies, or doctorate or first professional degree); a relevant minor for a bachelor’s degree; or a relevant content area for a teaching certificate.

2 Includes both undergraduate and graduate courses. Includes only courses taken before the teacher’s first year of teaching.

Note: Data are based on a head count of full-time and part-time teachers rather than on the number of full-time-equivalent teachers. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Teacher Data File” and “Private School Teacher Data File,” 2020–21. See Digest of Education Statistics 2021, table 209.42.

In school year 2020–21, about 49 percent of public school teachers in rural areas had at least one EL student in their class. Among public school teachers with at least one EL student in their class, lower percentages in rural areas and towns had relevant qualifications compared with teachers in suburban areas and cities. Specifically, among these teachers, 7 percent of teachers in rural areas and 8 percent of teachers in towns had a major, minor, or certification in ESL, compared with 10 percent of teachers in suburban areas and 12 percent of teachers in cities. Similarly, 43 percent of public school teachers in rural areas had taken any undergraduate or graduate courses on how to teach EL students, which was lower than the 48 percent of teachers in suburban areas and 50 percent of teachers in cities who had done so.5
Eighteen percent of private school teachers in rural areas had at least one EL student in their class in school year 2020–21. Among private school teachers in rural areas who had at least one EL student in their class, 29 percent had taken any courses on how to teach EL students. This percentage was lower than the percentage for public school teachers in rural areas (43 percent), but it was not measurably different from the percentages for private school teachers in other locales.6

1 For general technical notes related to data analysis, data interpretation, rounding, and other considerations, please refer to the Reader’s Guide.

2 Please visit the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Education Across America website for the definition of locale.

3 In this indicator, teachers who had a “major, minor, or certification” refers to those who reported a relevant major for any of various types of certificates or degrees (vocational certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, second bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, second master’s degree, education specialist/professional diploma, certificate of advanced graduate studies, or doctorate or first professional degree); a relevant minor for a bachelor’s degree; or a relevant content area for a teaching certificate.

4 Data on the qualifications of private school teachers (percentage with a major, minor, or certification in English as a Second Language [ESL]) whose main teaching assignment was ESL are not reported by locale because they did not meet reporting standards.

5 In this indicator, teacher coursework includes both undergraduate and graduate courses and includes only courses taken before the teacher’s first year of teaching.

6 Data on the qualifications of private school teachers (percentage with a major, minor, or certification in ESL) with at least one English learner (EL) student in their class are not reported by locale because the data for towns and rural areas did not meet reporting standards.

Supplemental Information

Indicator and Resources icon
English Learners in Public Schools [The Condition of Education]
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Table icon
Table 209.42 (Digest 2021): Percentage of public and private school teachers who teach English learner students and students with disabilities and percentage with selected qualifications or coursework, by selected teacher and school characteristics: 2020–21
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Suggested Citation

National Center for Education Statistics. (2024). Teachers of English Learners in Rural Public and Private Schools. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved [date], from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/lld.