Highly Qualified or Highly Unqualified? A Longitudinal Study of America's Public High School Biology Teachers
In this report, we trace the historical demographic features of biology teachers, the largest disciplinary education workforce in science between 1987 and 2007, using data from the National Center for Education Statistic's Schools and Staffing Surveys. While growing in size by more than 50% during this period, this population became increasingly inexperienced and less male dominated. Biology teachers also were drawn primarily from in-field degree graduates and remained racially homogeneous. We synthesize our data with previous studies to conclude that biology teachers are most likely among all science teachers to teach outside of their discipline as part of their workload. We discuss consequences of a large, highly qualified teacher population stepping outside of their content area for part of their course load, as it relates to self-efficacy and professional identity. Implications for large-scale STEM education reform and a scientifically literate US population are examined within the context of these findings.
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