Prestige, Interest, Preparation, Satisfaction
The Rise and Fall of the Teaching Profession: Prestige, Interest, Preparation, and Satisfaction Over the Last Half Century by Matthew A. Kraft and Melissa Arnold Lyon
EDWorkingPaper No. 22-679, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Brown University, November 16, 2022
This working paper brings into view five decades of research about the state of the teaching profession in the US. Any school charged with employing exemplary teachers, encouraging continual growth across often long careers, and meeting the needs of students in a changing landscape of political and social polarities will find essential data here. While shaking any complacency about who may be choosing to enter the pipeline of outstanding young teachers in the coming years, the paper also affords the opportunity to ensure that respect for educators is top of mind when setting school priorities. The statistics are as compelling as they are grim. With headlines like “The current state of the teaching profession is at or near its lowest levels in 50 years” in the New York Times (J. Grose, September 13, 2023), for example, minds turn to questions: Who will teach tomorrow? What keeps the courage to teach alive? Do our schools differ from the data? The four dimensions of the profession studied here – prestige, interest, preparation, and satisfaction – emerge with startling clarity from a crisp, accessible, scholarly analysis of hundreds of studies. The fact that in all four areas teachers are losing ground is found here. What is not here are two elements that bear consideration: the wider international picture which might bring examples of conditions that have supported the profession differently and a clear signal of the path forward. This report is not only a canary song of warning, but also an urgent reminder that we who are in the profession have ground-breaking and pathfinding to do to save it.