Technology Education Teacher Supply and Demand-A Critical Situation: If the Technology Education Profession Is to Survive, the Time for Action to Ensure That Survival Is Now

Article excerpt

The supply and demand of technology education teachers has been a matter of concern for many years. Weston (1997) reported, "... enrollment in and graduation from technology teacher education programs are on a downward spiral, the demand for teachers is on an upward trend, greatly accelerating the gap between supply and demand" (p. 6). Ndahi and Ritz (2003) stated, "It is clear that there is a shortage of teachers, especially technology education teachers, and the shortages will continue to increase" (p. 28). A study performed in 2009 identified that the supply and demand situation had become even more critical than what Weston (1997) and Ndahi and Ritz (2003) had reported. 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.

Background

Technology education is an excellent format to integrate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) studies by employing problem-based learning activities (Moye, 2008; Ritz, 2006; Zinser & Poldink, 2005). However, the benefits of technology education are still generally "misunderstood by the public" (Sanders, 2000, p. 16). The effects of technology education on increased student mathematics abilities have been identified in several studies (Dyer, Reed, & Berry, 2006; Frazier, 2009; Setter, 2006; Scarborough & White, 1994). It is evident that technology education is beneficial in raising student technological literacy and core academic success. However the supply of technology education teachers produced in the United States has not met the increased demand (Gray & Daugherty, 2004; Ndahi & Ritz, 2003; Weston, 1997; Wright & Devier, 1989).

The American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) conducts annual research concerning educator supply and demand in the United States. The organization surveys school districts and colleges to determine current supply and demand of educators in 64 educational fields, including technology education. Over a five-year period (2003-2007), 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 as having a balanced supply and demand of technology education teachers (AAEE, 2004; 2005; 2006; 2007; 2008).

Annually the United States Department of Education (USDOE) publishes a list of teacher shortage areas for each state. In the most recent analysis (March, 2008), USDOE reported that only 24 states indicated a shortage of technology education teachers; 22 did not indicate a shortage (USDOE, 2008). These data could indicate one of two points. The major shortfall of technology education teachers reported in Weston (1997) and Ndahi and Ritz (2003) have been resolved, or some states did not provide accurate data to the USDOE indicating the critical need for technology education teachers.

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Findings--Technology Teacher Supply

The document review of Industrial Teacher Educator Directories found that in 2004-2005, there were 34 institutions that produced 338 technology education teachers (Schmidt & Custer, 2005). In 2005-2006, 32 institutions produced 315 technology education teachers (Schmidt & Custer, 2006). Twenty-nine institutions produced 311 technology education teachers in 2006-2007 (Schmidt & Custer, 2007). Finally, in 2007-2008, 27 institutions produced 258 technology teachers (Waugh, 2008).

Data obtained from ITE Directories identified a downward trend of institutions that produced technology education teachers as well as the number of teachers produced during the years of 2004 to 2008. This trend follows a similar downward pattern identified by Ritz (1999) and Ndahi and Ritz (2003). In 1995-1996, institutions produced 815 technology education teachers (Ritz, 1999). …