California’s Teaching Force 2008: Key Issues and Trends

California’s Teaching Force 2008: Key Issues and Trends
December 10, 2008 Stuart Foundation

There is little argument about the importance of good teaching to student achievement. The evidence is clear—the most important variable that can be controlled in how much students learn is the people who teach them.  For each of the past 10 years, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning (CFTL) has issued a report on the status of the state’s teaching force based on research conducted by SRI International. CFTL provides practical information to help policymakers and education leaders understand the challenges they face. They offer context, clarity and solid data about the teaching profession.

Looking back over CFTL’s reports of the past decade, California has made substantial reductions in the number of teachers not fully prepared to teach. When CFTL started this work, California schools, particularly those in our poorest communities, were swamped by large numbers of underprepared teachers working on emergency teaching permits. The sheer numbers of underprepared teachers in these schools made it especially difficult for them to improve.  As you will see in this year’s report, the numbers of underprepared teachers has continued its decline over the past several years, although the concentration of underprepared and inexperienced teachers remains highest in schools that serve the children whose families have the least.