Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la formation et la profession enseignante (CRIFPE)

Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la formation et la profession enseignante (CRIFPE)


Partelow, L. (2019). What To Make of Declining Enrollment in Teacher Preparation Programs. Washington. DC, USA : Center for American Progress.




The state of the teaching profession is an urgent topic for policymakers and the public, especially against the backdrop of increased teacher strikes and walkouts across the country in the past two years. Teacher salaries are far too low, which has led many teachers to work second jobs or qualify for public assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). For the first time in years, a majority of parents surveyed by PDK International in 2018 said that they do not want their children to become teachers.Due to low salaries, difficult working conditions, and a lack of career pathway opportunities, the teaching profession as a whole cannot compare with other high-status professions such as medicine and law.

Even as teacher wages stagnate and state investment in education declines, teachers are being asked to do more than ever—and enrollment in teacher preparation programs is decreasing significantly nationwide.5This decline has spurred discussion among policy experts about how policymakers should address this issue and whether the decline in enrollment has already or will likely lead to national teacher shortages.

So far, the conversation on falling teacher enrollment has focused largely on this sec- ond issue. However, little is known about why enrollment is declining; whether certain groups of students have been shying away from enrollment in preparation programs more than others; and whether the decline is worse in certain subject areas, geographic areas, or types of programs. This lack of detailed information prevents policymakers from developing targeted, effective solutions and could result in a misplaced focus on certain aspects of the problem that ignores more pressing issues.

What is known is that since 2010, total enrollment nationwide in teacher preparation programs has declined by more than one-third; this decline has occurred in the context of increasing enrollment in bachelor’s degree programs nationwide over the same time period.7This means that across the country, approximately 340,000 fewer students elected to enroll in teacher preparation programs in the 2016-17 academic year—the latest year for which data are available—compared with the number of students who enrolled in 2008-09.8Similarly, there was a 28 percent decline in the number of students completing teacher preparation programs in the same years.

However, these national figures tell a limited story. Teacher labor markets are hyper- local, with most teachers choosing to work within 15 miles of their hometowns.9By examining state-by-state and even institution-by-institution information, policymakers can go beyond top-line national numbers to learn more about the trends in enrollment in each state. As Congress considers reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA) in the coming months, policymakers should add reporting requirements that would enable them to better understand declining enrollment in preparation programs and teacher labor markets more broadly.

This report provides a deeper analysis of those enrolled in and completing teacher preparation programs in the hopes that this new information will help policymakers both create policy and understand areas where further information is needed in order to make informed decisions. This deeper analysis includes information on aspects of teacher preparation program enrollment and completion that are particularly relevant to policymakers, such as racial and ethnic diversity of students, gender diversity of students, and the subjects in which students seek certification.


Logos des universités associées au CRIFPE

Adresse civique

Université de Montréal
Faculté des Sciences de l'Éducation
90, avenue Vincent d'Indy
Pavillon Marie-Victorin – C-536
Outremont (Québec) H2V 2S9

Adresse postale

Université de Montréal
Faculté des Sciences de l'Éducation
CRIFPE – C-543
C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville
Montréal (Québec) H3C 3J7