Ball State sees sharp drop in teacher candidates

Ball State University
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MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — Teaching isn’t making the grade as a career path for many students at Ball State University.

The Star Press reports enrollment in the elementary and kindergarten teacher-preparation programs has fallen 45 percent in the past decade, and enrollment in all undergraduate teacher-preparation programs has dropped 15 percent in the last two years.

The statistics alarm John Jacobson, dean of the university’s Teachers College.

“The story is more than just Ball State,” Jacobson said. “At Ball State and in Indiana and in the nation, there is a decline in individuals coming into teacher preparation and initial licensing.”

Experts say negative perceptions of public education, stricter teacher evaluations, concerns about compensation and higher admission standards could be factors in the decline.

“Teachers get blamed for kids coming out wrong,” said Ball State freshman Jenna Ferguson, who is studying intensive special education.

Education Week, a national newspaper covering K-12 news, reported in October that teacher layoffs during the Great Recession also acted as a deterrent, sending a message to potential teachers that the profession was no longer reliable.

Though Ball State has seen enrollment in its elementary and kindergarten teacher-preparation programs fall from 1,512 to 839 in the last decade, it has seen growth in graduate student enrollment — especially in its online master’s degree for applied behavioral analysis with an emphasis on autism.

Other advanced degrees offered by the college include master’s degrees in school counseling, adult and community education and school psychology; an educational specialist degree in school superintendency; and doctoral degrees in educational administration and supervision, among many others.

Even so, Jacobson said the trends are cause for concern, noting that many teachers leave the profession after five years.

“We want to attract the best and brightest. We’re very serious about that. We are concerned about all of the education programs. Are we attracting the best and brightest to come into the teaching profession?”

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