The number of students entering teacher preparation programs has fallen by more than a third since the onset of the recession, according to a new report from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
The pace of decline in 2010-11 slowed somewhat compared to recent years, but it continues a troubling five-year trend that is of growing concern to state officials who will need to accommodate both a growing student population and a flood of teacher retirements over the next decade.
“We have had some preparation programs go inactive and are hearing from others that they are considering going to go inactive – they say they cannot economically run the program anymore,” said Teri Clark, director of the CTC’s Professional Services Division. “The issue we are facing is – how are these programs going to ramp back up when we need them?”
In its annual report on the status of teacher training, the CTC found that last year a total of 34,838 students enrolled in university or institutional training programs. That’s a drop off of almost 33 percent since the 2006-07 school year when 51,744 prospective teachers entered preparation programs statewide.
The slide from 2009-10 to 2010-11 was 4.8 percent – far better than drops of more than 13 percent registered between 2006-07 and 2007-08 and again between 2008-09 and 2009-10.
The number of enrollees that actually end up getting a credential has also fallen significantly, from 24,176 in 2006-07 to 18,734 in 2010-11.
Such numbers come as no surprise given the struggle school districts have faced with funding cuts and payment deferrals by the state.
The California Teachers Association has estimated that close to 32,000 teachers have been laid off by districts since 2007. Class sizes have swelled from about 20 per teacher in most parts of the state to 30 or even higher in many districts.
Even though the state economy continues its lackluster recovery, there remain expectations that the California student population will add about 112,000 children through 2020, according to the Department of Finance. This growth will come about the same time that a large percentage of the 100,000 teachers statewide age 50 or older are expected to retire, according to analysis from Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.
Of the teachers that are being trained, half come out of the California State University system with 43 percent graduating from a private or independent university and the remaining 7 percent from the University of California, according to the CTC report.
Enrollment continues to be dominated by women, who represented about 71 percent of the entering class last year, while about 29 percent were men.
About one-fourth – some 23 percent – of new enrollees classified themselves as Hispanic/Latino, although the largest ethnic group – representing 56 percent of enrollees – remains white. African American candidates comprised just 6 percent of the incoming pool, the CTC reported.