AACTE’s National Portrait Sounds the Alarm on Declining Interest in Education Careers

(March 22, 2022, Washington, D.C.) – Today, AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education) releases the second edition of Colleges of Education: A National Portrait. In addition to updating information on colleges of education and their leaders, faculty, and students, this edition features a special analysis on the contributions of community colleges to educator preparation.

This update of AACTE’s signature report offers a comprehensive picture of the nation’s schools, colleges, and departments of education: the work that they do, the people who do that work, and the students they serve. The report describes the key trends and challenges in meeting the nation’s need for highly skilled educators.

Colleges and universities can benchmark their programs against peers, gain innovative ideas to grow and diversify enrollment through community college partnerships, and describe to stakeholders the challenges confronting educator preparation.

“The second edition of our National Portrait shows AACTE’s commitment to facing head-on the education challenges that imperil not only our profession, but the foundations of our entire society,” says Lynn M. Gangone, Ed.D., AACTE president and CEO. “Right now, the stakes could not be higher for education and our democracy. AACTE has adopted ‘revolutionizing education for all learners’ as its vision leading up to our 75th anniversary in 2023. This commitment drives us in all the work we do.”

The report includes national data through 2018–19, the last complete academic year prior to the coronavirus pandemic. It provides a valuable snapshot of education preparation before the pandemic resulted in unexpected and widespread enrollment declines, budget cuts, and other challenges. AACTE’s latest member survey provides member data during the pandemic to further illustrate the current state of education.

Using data from an array of governmental and organizational sources, the report highlights several key trends and concerns:

  • Community colleges make important contributions by preparing a diverse student body to pursue careers in the education profession.
  • The number of undergraduate education degrees awarded annually was stable until the early 2010s. In 2018–19, fewer than 90,000 bachelor’s degrees were conferred in education.
  • Over the last decade, there has been a significant decline in the number of degrees and certificates conferred in high-need specialties, including a 4% decrease in special education, 27% decrease in science and mathematics education, and 44% decrease in foreign language education.
  • There is strong evidence that all students of color and white students alike benefit academically from teachers with diverse backgrounds, but there is a mismatch between teachers and PK-12 students served. In 2022, 55% of students in public schools are non-white, presenting an opportunity to engage in early recruitment efforts of diverse candidates.
  • Despite concerted efforts to recruit diverse students to pursue teaching as a career path, comparatively few candidates of color are completing traditional teacher preparation programs, with 71% of completers identified as white.
  • Colleges of education also lack diversity in their faculty and leadership. Deans, associate/assistant deans, and tenure-track faculty are overwhelmingly white.

Many of the challenges affecting colleges of education identified in the first edition of the National Portrait remain and have been heightened due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite these challenges, colleges of education remain resilient and play a critical role in the nation’s education system.

Colleges of Education: A National Portrait, Second Edition, written by Jacqueline E. King, Ph.D., and Weadé James, Ph.D., is the latest in a series of AACTE reports on key issues affecting education today. The full report is available exclusively to AACTE members; the executive summary is available to the public at aacte.org.

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AACTE: Leading Educator Preparation Since 1948

AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education) is the leading voice on educator preparation. A national alliance of colleges of education, educator preparation programs, and partners, AACTE represents nearly 700 member institutions and strategic partners, including public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam. AACTE engages with its international partners in furthering the growth and development of educator preparation worldwide. Through advocacy and capacity building, AACTE promotes innovation and effective practices that strengthen educator preparation. Learn more at aacte.org.

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