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Projections of Education Statistics to 2020

NCES 2011-026
September 2011

Section 3. Elementary and Secondary Teachers: Introduction

Between fall 2008, the last year of actual public school data, and fall 2020, the number of teachers in elementary and secondary schools is projected to rise. The number of public school teachers is projected to increase and the number of private school teachers is projected to decrease. The pupil/teacher ratios are projected to decrease in both public and private schools. The annual number of new teacher hires is projected to increase in both public and private schools.

Factors affecting the projections

The projections of the number of elementary and secondary teachers are related to projected levels of enrollments and education revenue receipts from state sources per capita. For more details, see appendixes A.0 and A.3.

Factors that were not considered

The projections do not take into account possible changes in the number of teachers due to the effects of government policies.

About pupil/teacher ratios

The overall elementary and secondary pupil/teacher ratio and pupil/teacher ratios for public and private schools were computed based on elementary and secondary enrollment and the number of classroom teachers by control of school.

About new teacher hires

A teacher is considered to be a new teacher hire for a certain control of school (public or private) for a given year if the teacher teaches in that control that year but had not taught in that control in the previous year. A teacher who moves from teaching in one control to the other control is considered a new teacher hire, but a teacher who moves from one school to another school in the same control is not considered a new teacher hire. It is important to note that these projections measure the total number of teacher hires, including those hired to replace teachers retiring or leaving the teaching profession permanently or temporarily. Thus, the new teacher hire projections should not be interpreted as predicting teacher shortages.

Accuracy of Projections

An analysis of projection errors from the past 20 editions of Projections of Education Statistics indicates that the mean absolute percentage errors (MAPEs) for projections of classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools were 1.0 percent for 1 year out, 1.4 percent for 2 years out, 2.9 percent for 5 years out, and 5.9 percent for 10 years out. For more information on the MAPEs of different National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) projection series, see table A-2, appendix A.