Saturday, October 10, 2020

MARK WEBER: New Jersey’s Shrinking Pool of Teacher Candidates | New Jersey Policy Perspective

 New Jersey’s Shrinking Pool of Teacher Candidates | New Jersey Policy Perspective

 New Jersey’s Shrinking Pool of Teacher Candidates

To read a PDF version of the full report, click here.

Executive Summary

Maintaining a high-quality teaching workforce is critically important for the future of public education in New Jersey. Federal data, however, show cause for concern: New Jersey is producing far fewer teacher candidates than a decade ago. In fact, the number of candidates completing teacher preparation programs has dropped 49 percent between 2009 and 2018. These declines, which are part of national and regional trends, cut across both gender and race. The dwindling number of teacher candidates creates instability in the teaching profession and jeopardizes the ability of students to learn.[1]

While reasons for the decline in teacher candidates are complex, we know that New Jersey’s teachers are paid considerably less than other college-educated workers, even when controlling for age and time worked.[2] Of particular concern is that the evidence suggests fewer college graduates see teaching as a viable career option with adequate compensation. New Jersey must aggressively address these problems if it wishes to retain its status as having one of the best education systems in the nation.

To stem the decline in teacher candidates, New Jersey should work to make the teaching profession more attractive by raising teacher pay, shoring up benefits, and increasing the respect and appreciation shown to New Jersey’s educators.

This report explores enrollment and completion data in teacher preparation programs, gives context around state policy changes affecting education professionals, reviews the level of teacher demand in the state, and examines the change in demographics within the profession over the past ten years.


This past September, NJPP published an analysis of the New Jersey teaching corps entitled, New Jersey’s Teacher Workforce, 2019.[3] Among its findings:

  • While factors outside of school are the strongest influences on student achievement, teacher quality is the most significant in-school influence.
  • The research on teacher quality suggests that qualified people become teachers based, in part, on how well teaching pays compared to other jobs.
  • Despite the importance of teachers, there is a significant gap in wages between New Jersey teachers and other college-educated workers in the state, even when accounting for differences in time worked.
  • Pensions and health benefits do not fully close the pay gap between teachers and college-educated workers in other professions.
  • New Jersey’s teaching workforce is mostly white and female; there is little evidence of a trend toward a more diverse teaching workforce.
  • New Jersey’s teacher workforce is aging, suggesting a new wave of retirements in the next several years.

These findings are similar to other analyses, which show a significant pay gap for teachers compared to other college-educated workers.[4] Critics suggest, however, that these studies are flawed in that they don’t fully account for differences in benefits and other non-pecuniary compensation, unmeasured differences in talent between workers, and other factors. Teachers, they argue, are actually well-compensated, even in today’s tightening labor market.

To test these criticisms, this report examines whether more or fewer workers are becoming teachers. If teacher pay and benefits have kept pace with compensation in other sectors, we would expect to see workers respond in kind, and continue to enter the profession at previous rates. Because compensation levels influence workers’ decisions to go into teaching those workers would judge the benefits that teachers receive as adequate to close the teacher pay gap and continue to enroll in programs to prepare to become educators.[5]

The data, however, tell a different story. Fewer workers in New Jersey are electing to enter teacher preparation programs, a clear indication that teaching is not as attractive a career option as it once was.


Teacher Preparation Programs: Enrollment & Completion CONTINUE READING:  New Jersey’s Shrinking Pool of Teacher Candidates | New Jersey Policy Perspective