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The Number Of People Who Want To Teach Has Dropped By More Than Half This Decade

FILE PHOTO: Peter Balonon-Rosen/IPB News

Enrollment in teacher preparation programs has dropped significantly over the past decade. According to a new national report, Indiana has fewer than half of the candidates as it did in 2008.

The Center for American Progress shared an analysis of federal data this week, highlighting the shrinking pipeline of future educators. Nationwide, the report says the teacher pipeline has decreased in enrollment by at least one third.

The numbers are even more striking in Indiana. Federal data shows during the 2008-09 school year, 18,113 people were enrolled in teacher preparation programs in the state. But in 2016, that number was cut by more than half; the programs training future teachers saw only 7,127 people enrolled.

And although national data shows a nation-wide drop in teacher prep enrollment, Indiana University assistant dean of teacher education Jill Shedd says to fix Indiana’s teacher shortage, policymakers need to focus on the state’s unique needs.

“Do not use these national data to tell the story here in the state of Indiana, you have to look at the state of Indiana,” she says.

READ MORE: Holcomb Agrees With GOP Legislative Leaders: No Teacher Pay Raises In 2020 Session

Shedd says more targeted incentives, like loan forgiveness, could help bring teachers to the field. She says it could be especially important for subject areas and communities facing a lack of teachers, specifically rural schools. 

“Our colleagues across southern Indiana are having a rough time finding teachers to come to their smaller communities,” she says.

Enrollment has crept back up in recent years but has yet to hit levels seen before 2010. Shedd says paying higher salaries and providing more funding to schools would help.

But she says people also need to fundamentally change the way they talk about teaching, to focus more on its value and encourage young people to get into the field.

Contact Jeanie at or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.

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