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Author Technology and Engineering Teacher - Volume 76, Issue 4 - December/January 2017
PublisherITEEA, Reston, VA
ReleasedNovember 15, 2016
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Technology and Engineering Teacher - Volume 76, Issue 4 - December/January 2017

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The Supply and Demand of Technology and Engineering Teachers in the United States: Who Really Knows?

We…realize that the supply and demand of technology education teachers is at a critical point. But, what are we doing about it?

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When considering the supply and demand of technology and engineering teachers, who knows where the profession stands? In 1997 Weston observed, “Enrollment in and graduation from technology teacher education programs are on a downward spiral” (p.6). Moye (2009) stated, “…over the past two decades, the number of technology education teachers in the United States has decreased dramatically, and state supervisors reported that they expect more programs to close in the near future” (p.30). Moye’s 2009 study concluded that the profession was experiencing “a critical situation” (p. 30). Without recruiting new technology and engineering teachers and retaining current teachers and programs, the profession will continue to experience a “slow death” as Ritz suggested (1999, p. 9). Ultimately, “if we do not address the issues, soon we [the technology and engineering profession] will be going… going… gone” (Volk, 1997, p. 69).

 

It is not a normal practice for authors to start an article with so many quotes. However, this tactic is deemed necessary to reiterate a problem that the technology and engineering profession has experienced for at least the past 30 years. If we truly believe that all students should study technology and engineering, we need to ask ourselves: What are we doing to ensure there will be a sufficient number of technology and engineering teachers (and programs) to teach those students?

 

Even though the supply and demand of technology and engineering teachers could be considered one of the most significant challenges facing the profession, there appears to be very little accurate data on this topic. A review of the last 20 years of The Technology Teacher and Technology and Engineering Teacher journals reveals that there were four studies with the purpose of determining the number of technology (and engineering) teachers in the United States: (Weston (1997), Newberry (2001), Ndahi and Ritz (2003), and Moye, (2009)). There were also four Status of Technology (and Engineering) in the United States studies performed in which the researchers also sought to determine the number of teachers in the U.S.: Meade and Dugger (2004); Dugger, (2007); Moye, Dugger, & Starkweather, (2012); Moye, Jones, & Dugger, (2015). The plan with all the studies conducted between 1997 and 2015 was to collect information about the number of technology and (engineering) teachers employed in the United States and then compare those numbers to previous studies.

 

Reports indicate that a large percentage of state supervisors responded to the 1997, 2001, 2003, and 2009 studies. In the 2004 study, Meade and Dugger reported, “20 states indicated that the number of technology education teachers was an approximation, which may imply that the same is true for other states” (p. 31). All 50 states reported in the 2009 study, but collecting the data painstakingly required many hours on the telephone to state supervisors in order to acquire the information. Several supervisors received multiple calls and email requests before they supplied the information. The researchers also made multiple telephone calls during the 2012 and 2015 Status studies. One would have to ask, did the supervisors provide accurate data or did they just provide information to get the researcher “off their backs?” Even with much effort to collect accurate data during the 2007, 2012, and 2015 studies, fewer and fewer supervisors responded with information for their states. In Dugger’s 2007 Status of Technology Education in the United States study, 40 of the 50 state supervisors reported the number of teachers in their states. In the 2012 Status study, 34 of the 50 supervisors reported, and for the 2015 Status study, only 27 state supervisors provided the number of technology and engineering teachers in their states. Also, a review of the past ten years of Journal of Technology Education, found that there was no research focusing solely on the number of technology and engineering teachers, the number of vacancies, or program closures in the states. The point being made here is that researchers have faced difficulty acquiring accurate (if any) data when researching the number of technology (and engineering) teachers employed in the United States.

 

Recent research shows that technology and engineering professionals do not consider the supply and demand of technology and engineering teachers as a problem. In a modified Delphi study to determine Research Needs for Technology Education, Martin and Ritz (2012) solicited input from 17 technology teacher educators asking them what they felt were the most significant research needs. Of the seven research needs identified, none mentioned the need to study the supply and demand of technology (and engineering) teachers. The overall result of that study appears that the technology (and engineering) teacher educators felt research needs should center on academic concerns versus a practical concern—the availability of teachers. Once the study concluded, Martin and Ritz identified what they felt was “a glaring omission” (2012, p. 40). Offering their opinion, they wrote, “as the number of educators in technology education continues to dwindle, our research attention needs to be directed to best practices in recruitment, specifically, identifying and implementing strategies to recruit new members into the teaching profession and retain those that are already serving as teachers” (Martin & Ritz, 2012, p. 40).

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Purpose and Methods

The purpose of this study was to determine the supply and demand of technology and engineering teachers in the United States. Once gathered, the resulting data (that was available) was compared to previous studies to determine trends. Four methods were used to determine the supply; the researcher reviewed the 2010-11 through 2015-16 Technology & Engineering Teacher Education Directories. To determine the demand, the researcher reviewed two documents, the United States Department of Education Teacher Shortage Areas (TSA) Nationwide Listing 1990-1991 through 2015-2016 and the American Association of Employment in Education (AAEE) documents. The researcher also asked state technology and engineering program supervisors, state International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) Affiliate Representatives, and State Affiliate Presidents for the number of technology and engineering teachers employed and the number of vacant positions in their states.

 

Findings

Technology and Engineering Teacher Supply:

Researchers have used the Technology (& Engineering) Teacher Education Directories for the past 20 years to determine the number (or supply) of technology (and engineering) teacher graduates. The Council on Technology and Engineering Teacher Education provides “program listings for technology teacher education, engineering teacher education, industrial teacher education, and trade & industrial teacher education” (Rogers, 2015, p. i). In 1995-96, there were 815 technology teacher graduates. In 1996-97, 635 graduates; and in 1997-98, there were 732 (Ritz, 1999). In 2001-02, there were 672 new technology teachers (Ndahi & Ritz, 2003). In 2004-05, there were 338 new technology teachers, in 2005-06, 315; in 2006-07, 311, and in 2007-08, there were 258 new technology teachers (Moye, 2009). 

TETJan17MoyeTable1

Continuing the previously conducted research, six Directories were reviewed (Rogers, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, & 2015). In the most recent directory (2015), Rogers summed up a problem facing the technology and engineering profession (incidentally the focus of this study). He wrote:

Unfortunately the number of teacher education institutions along with the number of technology and engineering education graduates continues to decline. For the academic year data presented in this 54th edition, three institutions accounted for 36% of the baccalaureate graduates. Over 50% of the colleges noted four or fewer graduates, with six schools having no graduates. This is an alarming trend that has plagued our discipline for decades (Rogers, 2015, p. ii).

The Directories reveal that in 2010-11 there were 265 technology and engineering teacher graduates, in 2011-12, 338; 2012-13, 386; 2013-14, 294; 2014-15, 250; and in 2015-16 there were 206 graduates. Table 1 presents the number of technology (and engineering) graduates between 1995 and 2016.

 

One should be very concerned when reading the data contained in Table 1, but when that same data is presented in a chart—graphically illustrating the decline—it is even more disturbing. Figure 1 identifies the number of technology (and engineering) teachers produced from 1995 through 2016.

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Technology and Engineering Teacher Demand

The United Stated Department of Education (USDOE) Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) Nationwide List does not define what constitutes a “teacher shortage area” but only if there is or isn’t “an inadequate supply of elementary or secondary school teachers” (USDOE, 2015, p. 3). The TSA document also states that it is a “reference document to notify the nation where States and schools are looking to potentially hire academic administrators, licensed teachers, and other educators and school faculty in specific disciplines/subject areas, grade levels, and/or geographic regions” (USDOE, 2015, p. 2). In 2008, the TSA list “reported that only 24 states indicated a shortage of technology education teachers” (Moye, 2009, p. 30).

 

The researcher reviewed the TSA document for the 2010-11 through 2015-16 years. Each year the 50 states were to provide a report to the USDOE. Therefore, there are 50 opportunities to identify shortage or no shortage in each of those years. During those six years, states provided 300 reports. Out of 300 possible incidences states reported a shortage of technology/design and technology education teachers 58 times (or 19% of the time). Table 2 (next page) identifies when states reported technology/design and technology teacher shortages from 2010 through 2016. The “Y” indicates a shortage whereas the “-” indicates no shortage reported. Only the states that reported any shortages during 2010 through 2016 are included in Table 2.

 

The American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) conducts educator supply and demand studies annually. Between 2003 and 2007, “out of 55 available reports, three of the 11 regions reported that they had experienced considerable shortages, 32 reported that they experienced some shortages, and 12 of the regions reported having a balanced supply of technology education teachers” (Moye, 2009, p. 30). A review of the 2010, 2012, and 2013 AAEE documents report that there was a “balanced” demand and supply of technology teachers in the United States (AAEE, 2010, p. 5; AAEE, 2012, p. 58; & AAEE, 2013, p. 52). The 2016 document identified that there was “some shortage” of technology teachers in 2015. (S. Russell, personal communication, February 18, 2016).

 

The researcher surveyed state technology and engineering supervisors asking them two questions: (1) the number of middle and high school teachers employed in their state during the 2015-2016 school year, and (2) the number of vacant middle and high school technology and engineering positions during the 2015-2016 school year. The researcher was unable to find the contact information for six supervisors. Based on feedback from individual state departments of education, in at least three of the cases there was no technology and engineering supervisor assigned in those states. In one state, the science supervisor was assigned the technology and engineering supervisor responsibility.

 

After the initial email, the researcher sent a follow-up email to the supervisors. After both attempts to acquire information, only 11 supervisors provided the number of technology and engineering teachers in their states. Two supervisors provided documents that provided the number of Career and Technical Education teachers in their states, but being unable to discern one CTE area from another, that information was unusable. In some cases, supervisors indicated that they do not track the number of technology and engineering teachers currently employed or vacant positions in their state.

 

Concurrent with the follow-up email to supervisors, the researcher sent emails asking the same two questions to each state ITEEA Affiliate Representative and the President of each state technology and engineering education association. Although there were several responses from energetic teachers, only one could provide the researcher with the number of technology and engineering teachers in his state.

TETJan17MoyeTable2

The researcher requested the number of employed teachers and vacancies in an attempt to compare that information to the numbers contained in past studies. However, because the researcher received so little information, he was unable to produce a reasonable list of the number of teachers and vacancies in the U.S.

 

Included in all the email solicitations was a request for comments concerning technology and engineering teachers and programs in the states. The researcher received 53 comments from state supervisors, an ITEEA Affiliate Rep, and in one state, local division technology and engineering supervisors. Some individuals provided more than one comment. To determine recurring themes, the researcher coded (categorized) the comments.

 

Once coding was complete, several themes arose. Occurring 20 times, the theme that received the most comments was the shortage of available technology (and engineering) teachers. The area receiving the second most comments identified program closures, seven of which were technology and engineering teacher education programs and five secondary school program closures. The third most common comment (seven) identified how positions were filled with alternatively licensed teachers “crossing over” from industry. Two comments identified problems with or lack of state-level leadership. Other information discussed the need for improved teacher professional development and that teachers are not willing to participate in professional development. Also mentioned was the need to transform programs to include robotics and other STEM-related activities.

 

Discussion

The purpose of this study was to determine the supply and demand of technology and engineering teachers in the United States. This study did not collect the information as planned, but a few conclusions can be made.

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Recent studies on the subject have experienced little success determining the number of technology and engineering teachers employed and the number of vacancies in the states. Questions technology and engineering education professionals should ask: Is it important to determine the supply and demand of technology and engineering teachers, and if so, why is it important? In this author’s opinion, it is necessary to determine if the supply is meeting the demand and if the demand is increasing or decreasing. Further—is there even a demand at all?

 

Over the past two decades, the supply of technology and engineering teachers has declined dramatically. In the 1995-96 school year, institutions produced 815 new technology teachers. In 2015-16, the number of graduates declined to 206, one quarter of the graduates produced 20 years prior.  

 

A review of USDOE Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide list from 2010 through 2016 reveals a shortage of technology/design and technology teachers in only 58 of 300 possible incidences. The American Association for Employment in Education reported a “balanced” supply and demand of technology teachers in the United Stated during the years of 2010, 2011, and 2012. In 2015, there was “some shortage” of teachers. These national documents suggest that between 2010 and 2016 there was no substantial shortage of technology and engineering teachers in the United States. This suggestion contradicts the comments that technology and engineering leaders’ provided for this study.

 

Even though Martin and Ritz (2012) found that determining the supply and demand of technology and engineering teachers in the U.S. was not a concern of those surveyed, many professionals do consider this a problem. This study found at least three issues that should be addressed. The first is the lack of technology and engineering teachers produced in universities across the nation. The data show that over the past 20 years there are fewer institutions producing fewer teachers. The second issue is that national documents suggest that there is no technology and engineering teacher shortage when leaders in the profession think that there is. The third issue is the lack of data showing how many teachers are employed and teacher vacancies in each state.

 

Assuming the national teacher shortage data is accurate and there is no substantial demand for technology and engineering teachers: is it true that there is no demand? With the substantial decline of technology and engineering teachers graduating annually, why wouldn’t there be a shortage? Could it be that states are not correctly reporting those shortages or there is not real shortage because of program closures?

 

It is this researcher’s opinion that the technology and engineering profession is in a very difficult predicament. If the number of teachers and programs continue to decline (as reported), the future of the profession itself is at stake. Therefore, no other problem is as important to research and solve. The fact is, we in our profession realize that the supply and demand of technology education teachers is at a critical point. But, what are we doing about it?

 

Recommendations

Recommendations for further research. Researchers should:

1.     Complete a detailed and accurate study of the supply and demand of technology and engineering teachers in the United States.

2.     Determine why students are not entering the technology and engineering teaching profession.

3.     Find the “best practices” that encourage students to enter into the technology and engineering teaching profession.

 

Conclusion

The supply and demand of technology and engineering teachers continues to be of concern. Researchers have successfully conducted studies to determine the number of teachers graduating from teacher education programs but have found limited success when attempting to determine how many technology and engineering teachers are employed in the United States. Further, it has been equally difficult to determine how many vacancies exist.

 

This report does not attempt to show how our profession is dying. It reiterates what our profession’s leaders have stated for decades. We have a teacher supply-and-demand problem!  However, it is very difficult to determine the actual extent of the problem, and if a problem even exists. Concerning the supply and demand of technology and engineering teachers in the United States, who really knows? 

 

References

American Association of Employment in Education (AAEE). (2010). Educator supply and demand in the United States. Columbus, OH: Author.

American Association of Employment in Education (AAEE). (2012). 2011 job search handbook. Slippery Rock, PA: Author.

American Association of Employment in Education (AAEE). (2013). 2012 job search handbook. Slippery Rock, PA: Author.

Dugger, W. E., Jr. (2007). The status of technology education in the United States: A triennial report of the findings from the states. The Technology Teacher, 67(1), 14-21.

Martin, G. E. & Ritz, J. M. (2012). Research needs for technology education: A U.S. perspective. Journal of Technology Education, 23(2). 25-43.

Meade, S. D. & Dugger, W. E., Jr. (2004). Reporting on the status of technology education in the U.S. The Technology Teacher, 64(2), 29-33.

Moye, J. J. (2009). Technology education teacher supply and demand – A critical situation. The Technology Teacher, 69(2), 30-36.

Moye, J. J, Dugger, W. E. Jr., & Starkweather, K. N. (2012). The status of technology and engineering education in the United States: The fourth report of the findings from the states (2011-12). Technology and Engineering Teacher, 71(8), 25-31.

Moye, J. J, Jones, V. R., & Dugger, W. E. Jr. (2015). Status of technology and engineering education in the United States: A fifth report of the findings from the states (2014-2015). Technology and Engineering Teacher, 74(7), 30-36.

Ndahi, H. B. & Ritz, J. M. (2003). Technology education teacher demand, 2002-2005. The Technology Teacher, 62(7), 27-31.

Newberry, P. B. (2001). Technology education in the U.S.: A status report. The Technology Teacher, 61(1), 8-12.

Ritz, J. M. (1999). Addressing the shortage of technology education teaching professionals: Everyone’s business. The Technology Teacher, 59(1), 8-12.

Rogers, G. E. (Ed.) (2010). Engineering & technology teacher education directory (49th ed.). CTTE and ASTE. Lafayette, IN: Purdue University.

Rogers, G. E. (Ed.) (2011). Engineering & technology teacher education directory (50th ed.). ASTE and CTTE. Lafayette, IN: Purdue University.

Rogers, G. E. (Ed.) (2012). Engineering & technology teacher education directory (51st ed.) CTETE. Lafayette, IN: Purdue University.

Rogers, G. E. (Ed.) (2013). Engineering & technology teacher education directory (52nd ed.). CTETE. Lafayette, IN: Purdue University.

Rogers, G. E. (Ed.) (2014). Engineering & technology teacher education directory (53rd ed.). CTETE. Lafayette, IN: Purdue University.

Rogers, G. E. (Ed.) (2015). Engineering & technology teacher education directory (54th ed.). CTETE. Lafayette, IN: Purdue University.

United Stated Department of Education (USDOE). (2015). Teacher shortage areas nationwide listing 1990-1991 [through 2015-2016]. Retrieved http://catalog.data.gov/dataset/teacher-shortage-areas-2015-16

Volk, K. S. (1997). Going, going, gone? Recent trends in technology teacher education programs. Journal of Technology Education, 8(2), 66-70.

Weston, S. (1997). Teacher shortage-supply and demand. The Technology Teacher, 57(1), 6-9.

 

 

Johnny J Moye, Ph.D., DTE, is a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, a former high school technology teacher, and a recently retired school division CTE Supervisor. He currently serves as an adjunct professor with Old Dominion University’s STEMPS department. He can be reached at johnnyjmoye@gmail.com.