Information in the latest “Condition Of Education” report from the Iowa Department of Education breaks down the age and experience of teachers in the system.
Jay Pennington is the chief data analyst for the department. “The average age was just under 42-years old, so slightly down from 12 years ago. I think an interesting trend — looking at this 12-year window — you do see the percentage of females increase four percentage points in that 12-year window,” Pennington says.
When you look back to the 1991-1992 school year, 21-percent of teachers were between the ages of 41 and 45. But Pennington says that has changed.
“This group decreases in terms of the percentage and becomes much flatter in the most recent year. So we have a much more even distribution of our teach force spread across the spectrum in the terms of age distribution,” Pennington explains.
Schools use a combination of a teacher’s age, plus their years of experience to figure out when retirement benefits start to kick in and 88 years is the top number where the retirement starts. In the 1991-1992 school year the largest percentage of teachers had an age plus experience range of 51 to 60 years.
Today the largest percentage of teachers have an age and experience years that add up to between 31 and 40. “And another interesting trend I think is also looking at this high end, so those that are at 88 or more,” Pennington says, “so that made up about six percent of the population, and now it is around eight. So you are seeing larger number of folks that are eligible to retire, sort of staying in the system a little bit longer.”
After his presentation, Pennington told Radio Iowa the leveling out of the age range of the state’s teachers is a good thing for schools.
“I think having a more even distribution is a positive. You don’t have a particular age group or large dip that you’ll see in the overall teaching force as people retire,” Pennington says.
“So from a supply and demand perspective, straight economic perspective it’s better to have an even distribution.” He says the proposed new teacher pay plan recognizes the need for a mix of experience and includes money for experienced teachers who want to mentor younger teachers.
“You know anyone, any teacher could be available to become mentor or a model or lead teacher — so it’s not limited to any particular group — but I think the idea is really building local capacity and having your better teachers be able to work with other teachers throughout the building,” Pennington says.
You can see the complete Condition Of Education report here: 2012 Condition Of Education PDF