I-20c: Percentage of Public Middle School Students in Classes Taught by a Departmentalized Instructor* with a Degree in That Subject, for Selected Subjects, 1988–2012

* Middle school teachers are those who taught students in grades 5–9 and did not teach any students in grades 10–12. Teachers who identified themselves as elementary or special education teachers were excluded.
** Data not collected for this subject in 1988.
*** The Natural Science category aggregates teachers of general science and specific science disciplines (e.g., chemistry). Such teachers are considered to hold a credential in the subject they teach if the degree or certification is in general science or a specific science discipline.
! Interpret data with caution. The standard error for this estimate is between 30% and 50% of the estimated value.

Source: For years 1988–2000: Marilyn M. Seastrom et al., Qualifications of the Public School Teacher Workforce: Prevalence of Out-of-Field Teaching 1987–88 to 1999–2000, Statistical Analysis Report NCES 2002-603 Revised (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 2002), 61 table B-8. For 2012: Stéphane Baldi, Catharine Warner-Griffin, and Chrystine Tadler, Education and Certification Qualifications of Public Middle Grades Teachers of Selected Subjects: Evidence from the 2011–12 Schools and Staffing Survey (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2015), 29 table 25.

In 2003–2004, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) changed the method by which it collects teacher certification data: “In an effort to improve the reliability of the items, separate questions were used to ask about main teaching assignment and certification. Respondents were first asked to identify the subject code for their main assignment and then, in a later section of the survey, to identify subject codes for all subjects covered by the certification(s) they held. A determination of whether or not teachers were certified in their main assignment is up to the analyst; the analyst is able to match the course taught with certification areas, rather than rely on teacher self-reports.” (Beth A. Morton et al., Education and Certification Qualifications of Departmentalized Public High School–Level Teachers of Core Subjects: Evidence from the 2003–04 Schools and Staffing Survey, Statistical Analysis Report NCES 2008-338 [Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 2008], 57–58.) Due to the resulting noncomparability of these and subsequently collected certification data with the information collected in previous years, the trend analysis presented here focuses solely on teachers’ educational backgrounds. Per the report, most of the teachers in U.S. public middle schools (“defined as those who teach grades 5–8 but no grades lower than 5 and no grades higher than 9”) were classified as departmentalized. Departmentalized teachers “are those who instruct several classes of different students most or all of the day in one or more subjects.” The SASS report for 2012 estimates that there were 183,600 departmentalized middle school teachers in the humanities disciplines of English, French, German, Spanish, and history (with 139,100 in English, 3,600 in French, 500 in German, 10,900 in Spanish, and 29,500 in history). In comparison, the report estimates only 13,100 English teachers classified as nondepartmentalized, with no estimates for the other humanities subjects. The nation’s English middle school instructors taught 14,275,700 students. French teachers served 477,900 students; German teachers, 56,200; and Spanish teachers, 1,552,000. History teachers were responsible for the learning of 3,909,400 young people. Please see the “Note on the Credentials of ‘Social Science’ Teachers in Public Middle Schools” for an explanation of the relationship between the history and social science categories included in the graph.

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