CPRE : Consortium for Policy Research in Education

Research Report

Seven Trends: The Transformation of the Teaching Force – Updated October 2018

Has the elementary and secondary teaching force changed in recent years? And, if so, how? Have the types and kinds of individuals going into teaching changed? Have the demographic characteristics of those working in classrooms altered? To answer these questions we embarked on an exploratory research project to try to discover what trends and changes have, or have not, occurred in the teaching force over the past three decades. We were surprised by what we found. We discovered that the teaching force has been, and is, greatly changing; yet, even the most dramatic trends appear to have been little noticed by researchers, policy makers, and the public.

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To explore these questions, we used the largest and most comprehensive source of data on teachers available—the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and its supplement, the Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS). These data are collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Education (for information on SASS, see NCES, 2013). NCES has administered eight cycles of this survey over a 29-year period—1987-88, 1990-91, 1993-94, 1999-2000, 2003-04, 2007-08, 2011-12, and 2015-16. The most recent cycle, administered in 2015-16, was renamed the National Teacher Principal Survey (NTPS). In each cycle, NCES administers questionnaires to a nationally representative sample of 40,000 to 50,000 teachers, 9,000 to 11,000 school-level administrators, and about 5,000 district-level officials, collecting an unusually rich array of information on teachers, their students, and their schools. We decided to take advantage of both the depth and duration of these data to explore what changes have taken place in the teaching force and teaching occupation over the three decades from 1987 to 2016.

Publication Date

October 2018