In spring 1993, an estimated 119,200 teachers taught kindergarten students in U.S. public schools. Among the nation's public school kindergarten teachers, almost all (98 percent) were women; 85 percent were white, non-Hispanic, 8 percent black, non-Hispanic, and 7 percent other racial/ethnic groups (Figure 5 and Table 13).
On average, public school kindergarten teachers have been teaching for 14 years, with 9 years of experience at the kindergarten level (Table 14). About half (54 percent) majored in early childhood education at either the undergraduate or graduate level, and almost all (93 percent) have completed coursework in early childhood education (not shown in tables). Overall, kindergarten teachers reported taking an average of 9 courses in early childhood education; those majoring in early childhood education have completed an average of 12 such courses (Table 14).
Nearly a third (29 percent) of public school kindergarten teachers hold membership in a professional association for early childhood education. Of those majoring in early childhood education. 35 percent are association members.
The likelihood of a kindergarten teacher having an educational background in early childhood education varies by geographic region, number of years teaching kindergarten. teaching assignment (full-day, two half-days, one half-day), and race/ethnicity of the teacher. About three-fourths of kindergarten teachers (79 percent) in the Southeast region of the country majored in early childhood education at either the undergraduate or graduate level, compared to 53 percent in the Northeast and 41 percent in both the Central and Western regions. Teachers who have been teaching kindergarten 11 or more years are more likely to have majored in early childhood education (61 percent) compared to those with less than 5 years of kindergarten experience (49 percent). A higher proportion of teachers of full-day kindergarten classes (61 percent) had majored in early childhood education than had those teaching two half-day classes (27 percent) and those teaching on] y one half-day class ( 12 percent; Figure 6). Black, non-Hispanic kindergarten teachers were more likely to have majored in early childhood education than teachers of other racial/ethnic groups: 76 percent of black, non- Hispanic teachers compared to 54 percent of white, non-Hispanic teachers and 42 percent of teachers of all other races.
Most kindergarten teachers (92 percent) taught regular kindergarten classes in spring 1993, 1 percent taught transitional or readiness kindergarten (an extra year of school for kindergarten-aged children who are judged not ready for kindergarten), 3 percent taught transitional first grade (an extra year of school for children who have attended kindergarten and have been judged not ready for first grade), and 3 percent taught kindergarten children in a multigrade or ungraded class setting (Figure 7). Although one of the original goals of this survey had been to examine teacher beliefs and practices by the type of class taught, the small number of teachers in either transitional or ungraded classes precludes such comparisons, since those estimates would not be very reliable.
About half (54 percent) of kindergarten teachers taught in full-day classes, and 46 percent taught half-day classes. Of those teaching half-day classes, 62 percent taught both morning and afternoon sessions, 27 percent taught morning sessions only, and 11 percent taught afternoon sessions only (Figure 8 and Table 13).
The likelihood of teachers teaching a full-day kindergarten class varied with the following school characteristics: poverty status, minority enrollment, geographic region, and metropolitan status. Two-thirds (67 percent) of teachers in schools with high poverty taught full-day kindergarten classes, whereas less than one-third (29 percent) of teachers in schools with low poverty taught full-day kindergartens (Table 13). A similar pattern occurred by minority enrollment of the class. Teachers of kindergarten classes with high minority enrollments were more likely to teach full-day classes than were teachers of classes with low minority enrollments (67 versus 43 percent).
Kindergarten teachers in the Southeast were twice as likely to teach full-day classes as their counterparts in other regions of the country (89 percent in the Southeast versus from 33 percent in the Central region to 43 percent in the Northeast). By metropolitan status of schools, the proportion of kindergarten teachers who taught full-day classes was only 39 percent in schools on the urban fringe compared to 66 percent in rural 39 percent in schools on the urban fringe compared to 66 percent in rural schools, 59 percent in city schools, and 53 percent for kindergarten teachers teaching in schools in towns.