Academic journal article Research and Issues in Music Education (RIME)

A Survey of Elementary and Secondary Music Educators' Professional Background, Teaching

Academic journal article Research and Issues in Music Education (RIME)

A Survey of Elementary and Secondary Music Educators' Professional Background, Teaching

Article excerpt


In 1997, Linda Darling-Hammond's National Commission on Teaching and America's Future follow-up report "Doing what matters most: Investing in Quality Teaching" outlined challenges facing teachers. These challenges include a shortage of qualified teachers, access to professional development, mentoring and collaborative planning time for in-service teachers, low pay, and lack of decision making responsibilities. These issues still resonate two decades later as a demand for teachers is on the rise with teacher attrition as the most significant factor for the current teacher shortage (Sutcher, Darling-Hammond, and Carver-Thomas, 2016). Work overload and large class settings have also been found to contribute to teacher burn-out and attrition (Bernhard 2007, Heston, Dedrick, Raschke, and Whitehead, 1996). Thus, it is important to examine the demographics of contemporary teachers in the United States, listen to their current views and experiences, and gather data from professionals working in the field to provide a better understanding and support for their teaching situations and careers. Specifically, the intent of the present study was to examine the current trends of K-12 music educators in the United States regarding their (a) professional background, (b) classroom teaching responsibilities, and (c) job satisfaction.

Review of Literature

Utilizing the 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and the 2000-2001 Teacher Followup Survey (TFS), which were both collected through the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Gardner (2010) found that music teachers are predominately female (61% female vs. 39% male), most had a bachelor's degree (98.1% followed by 40.2% holding a bachelor's and master's degree), and predominately described themselves as white (89.6%). Scholars have found similar trends with collegiate level instructors, with music teacher educators and collegiate band directors being predominantly white and male (Gould, 2003; Hewitt and Thompson, 2006). The predominance of white and male demographics also permeates through studies of obstacles facing pre-service music teachers. For example, Fitzpatrick and colleagues (2014) observed cases of students from marginalized populations who faced many obstacles to entering and completing music education college programs, such as lack of information and resources. Additionally, Elpus (2015) examined the music teacher licensure test results (PRAXIS II) finding that minorities and female candidates' scores were lower on the Praxis II than their white and male counterparts.

Additional information from the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) showed that a higher percentage of music teachers (86.8%) versus other types of teachers (55.4%) taught in secondary grades, a majority of music teachers worked fulltime (62.9%), and most music teachers in this study worked in suburban communities (44.5%), followed by 30.6% in rural areas, and 24.9% in large or mid-size central cities. Also, music teachers are more likely to teach in multiple buildings within a school district than their teacher counterparts (Gardner, 2010). Similarly, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2009) reported that 46% of full time secondary public school teachers reported they were teaching at more than one school and 36% reported teaching courses outside of regular school hours, which did not include any extracurricular activities (Parsad, Spiegelman & Coopersmith, 2012).

Regarding the role of music as a subject in K-12 schools, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 1999-2000 report showed 90% of public secondary schools taught music in the schools, and this number slightly increased to 91% in the 2009 follow-up report. Of the secondary schools who responded, 46% reported offering five or more music courses, and 81% stated they had a fulltime music specialist on staff. Similarly, in a study of 541 high school principals, it was found that band was offered in 93% of their schools, followed by choir (88%), jazz/rock ensemble (55%), and orchestra (42%) (Abril & Gault, 2008). …

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