In-Depth Look at the Pipeline into Teaching: Insights from a State Longitudinal Data System

Mar 27, 2022 10:15 AM — 11:45 AM
Association for Public Policy and Managament annual conference
Session 15551, Room 311, JW Marriott, Austin, TX

As the number of people enrolling in teacher certification programs have steadily declined across the United States, many are now predicting a teacher shortage crisis nationwide. Consistent with national trends, between 2010-11 and 2015-16, State has experienced substantial statewide declines in educator preparation program (EPP) enrollment (48 percent) and completion (32 percent). During this time, State has also consistently reported teacher shortages in certain high-needs subject areas (e.g., STEM, special education, English as a second language) and schools (e.g., low-income, rural). During this time, the state has seen a steeper decline among students of color enrolling and completing (about 3% percent) preparation programs. Given growing evidence for academic and non-academic benefits of having teachers of color for all students, and especially students of color, understanding where in the pipeline we are losing potential teachers of color is especially critical.

While the state has implemented a number of policies and practices to offset teacher shortages, national trends suggest that State needs to continue to be proactive about assessing and addressing current and future shortages. In this paper, we report on longitudinal trends over the past 15 years, when enrollments in EPPs have declined, to examine whether or not there have been changes in the kinds of individuals going through the State’s P-20 system, entering EPPs, and becoming teachers. Though we consider trends across all teachers, we focus particularly on students of color.

We use data from State Higher Education Commission from public institutions in the state covering roughly 2 million students over the past 15 years. These data include semester enrollment data (e.g., declared major and gpa), degree data for associate, bachelor, and master degrees, admission information (e.g., high school GPA, ACT/SAT scores), student demographic information. We merge these data to the State teacher longitudinal data set, including licensing and employment records for teachers employed in State public schools.

From these data, we model the pipeline into teaching that college students follow using structural equation modeling. We conceptualize the pipeline into a series of steps that we can identify in our data. These include declaring a major that potentially could lead to teaching, receiving an associates’ degree, receiving a bachelors’ degree, becoming licensed a licensed teacher, and being reported as a teacher in a public school. We add two optional pathways to this pipeline, including receiving a master’s degree and completing a teacher preparation program in the state. While prior work has examined different aspects of the teacher pipeline, ours is unique in being able to examine so many stages simultaneously such that we can consider declines at each stage relative to others. In this way, we can determine which stages are especially leaky. We can also test whether the stages in which we are losing prospective teachers of color are similar to the stages where we are losing most white teachers.

We find that our SEM model is a good fit to our data and that White and Black teachers follow somewhat different pathways to teaching. We find that Black teachers are more likely to leave the pipeline early as they are more likely not to continue even if they received an AA in a teaching field, more likely to not complete a BA in a teaching major even after declaring a major in a teaching field, or continue through to a teaching preparation program after receiving a BA. On the other hand, we find that Black students are more persistent in the pipeline once they enter a teaching preparation program and receive a license.

Our results have the potential to inform current and future recruitment practices for Black teachers, pointing towards the need to strengthen the recruitment and retention of Black teachers early in their college careers.