NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Unqualified Teachers

November 21, 1997

Nearly one-quarter of new public school teachers lack necessary qualifications for their jobs, according to a new report by the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future. The organization based its findings on about 200 studies done over two years.

  • Some 27 percent of new teachers had not completed licensing requirements in their main teaching areas in 1994 -- of which 11 percent were without any license and 16 percent held emergency, temporary or alternative licenses.
  • Some 21 percent of veteran high school teachers had less than a minor in their primary teaching areas -- including28 percent of math teachers, 22 percent of English teachers and 18 percent of science and social studies teachers.
  • Also, 59 percent had less than a minor in their secondary teaching areas.

The report strongly suggests that ill-prepared teachers contribute to the country's difficulty in raising student achievement.

The problems may worsen as student enrollments reach their highest level ever and teacher retirements and attrition create substantial vacancies. More than 30 percent of beginning teachers leave in their first five years. Experts predict that more than 2 million new teachers will be needed by 2007.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Many Teachers Fall Short on Qualifications," USA Today, November 21, 1997.


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