As a segment of the total U.S. teaching force, their representation appears to be considerable.
Nationally, 12 percent of all public school teachers are in their first or second year, according to an Education Week analysis of new data from the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights. And in some states, that figure is more than 15 percent.
The data, while still under review, are consistent with other recent research pointing to a “greening” trend in teaching over the past 20 years. They also raise questions both about the overall stability of the teaching force and the ability of school systems to provide adequate support to so many novices.
Experts point to various explanations for the seemingly high proportion of novices in classrooms, including school-hiring increases in a period of economic recovery, population changes, and teacher-retention challenges.
According to Education Week‘s analysis of the OCR data, Florida reported the highest proportion of novice teachers in the country, with about a quarter of its teachers in their first or second years. The District of Columbia and Colorado, both with nearly 18 percent of their teaching forces qualifying as new, also came in at the top of the list.
The states with the lowest percentages of new teachers, according to the analysis, were New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Washington, and Georgia. They each reported new teachers making up less than 7 percent of their teaching force.
Studies consistently show that new teachers face a steep learning curve and that educators generally improve dramatically over their first few years on the job. And recent research has found that teachers get even better as they gain additional years of experience.
Daniel Weisberg, the chief executive officer of TNTP, a nonprofit that helps districts recruit and train teachers, said that influxes of new teachers should prompt school systems to work more closely with local teacher-prep programs to ensure that educators are graduating with the “foundational skills” needed to take over a classroom.
But Weisberg also emphasized the importance of intensive coaching in the first year. “It’s really important for new teachers that they are getting feedback and have someone they can go to for guidance,” he said.