His latest report, The Demographic Transformation of the Teaching Force in the United States, was recently published in Education Sciences. In it, Ingersoll and co-authors extend their study of teachers from 1987 up to 2018, the latest year from which federal data is available. This is the closest snapshot we have of the teacher workforce before the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this update, Ingersoll found that many trends he has tracked since publishing his first study continue to hold true, and in some ways have deepened: The number of teachers has increased faster than students; those teachers, in general, are less experienced than their peers from three decades ago; more of these teachers are women; there are more teachers of color, if still not enough; and teacher turnover remains a problem.
The data can help inform key choices school leaders and policymakers will have to make in the coming months and years, about how many teachers are needed, what training and support they need, and how schools will pay for them.
During the pandemic, many education leaders feared a massive wave of teacher retirements. While data from the last year has not been published yet, Ingersoll said he has not seen evidence of such a wave. However, findings in his new report show that many experienced teachers are at or near retirement age and suggest such a wave could be coming in the near future.
“In general, employees do not leave their jobs during economic downturns. This includes teachers who have the seniority to retire from the classroom but might want or need to work elsewhere, or beginning teachers who want to change careers,” Ingersoll says. “Post-pandemic, as more middle-class jobs become available, I predict there will be a large increase in turnover. Older teachers will retire, and some newer teachers will leave the profession.”
The report also raises questions for states and school districts worried about pension costs or a basic cash crunch.
Read more at Penn GSE.