New Report: Career Changers in the Classroom

Posted by on March 22, 2010

A closer look at career-changers

A new report from Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation underwritten by the MetLife Foundation points to significant shortfalls in preparation and support for those who change careers to teach, and debunks common assumptions about their paths to teaching. Its survey of 504 teachers found that that the majority of career changers — 92 percent — pursued teacher education through a university program, and nearly nine in 10 considered their programs to have been excellent overall. Programs were mainly faulted for failing to prepare teachers for real-world challenges. On a composite index of ratings, more than one-quarter of those surveyed (28 percent) gave their teacher preparation a “C” or better with regard to dealing with behavioral issues, incorporating standards into the curriculum, and teaching English language learners. The report also counters stereotypes about career changers as midcareer or second-career executives taking large pay cuts to teach. It found that nearly three in five career changers (57 percent) worked in other jobs for less than ten years before entering the classroom. Two out of three (67 percent) reported that their teaching salaries were the same as or better than salaries in their previous jobs. To be eligible for the survey, interviewees had to be current teachers who had been teaching in public schools for no more than 20 years, and who had held positions in other fields for at least three years before teaching.

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