News FocusU.S. SCIENCE EDUCATION

Data Say Retention Is Better Answer to 'Shortage' Than Recruitment

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Science  29 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6004, pp. 580-581
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6004.580

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Summary

Conventional wisdom has it that the dismal performance of U.S. students on international math and science tests can be blamed in large part on an inadequate supply of good teachers. But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? Is there really a national shortage of teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics? A new analysis by Richard Ingersoll, an education policy researcher at the University of Pennsylvania who has tracked teacher workforce issues for 2 decades, suggests that the problem is retention, not recruitment. That conclusion, Ingersoll admits, "is heresy" to most science educators and advocates. It also has important policy implications (see sidebar).