Encouraging More High School Students to Consider Teaching

The survey-based research, Encouraging More High School Students to Consider Teaching, conducted by the ACT in June 2018, indicates that education as a major has declined in popularity among ACT-tested high school graduates and that the students most interested in being K–12 teachers are less academically prepared than other students. This is a bad news to the public education because it predicts that the public school teacher workforce will be of poor quality. Without a solid quality of education, the country's future is doomed.

Why aren't students interested in teaching? The overwhelming reason that students are not interested in teaching is salary. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of those not interested in teaching cited pay as one of the top three reasons they were not interested in teaching. The research showed that the top intended mayors are health sciences, businesses, and engineering. Young people in the United States are more eager to become doctors, business managers, and engineers who make much higher salaries than that made by public school teachers. It is nothing to blame when a kid chooses his or her career as an engineer instead of a teacher. Ironically, a teacher is referred to as the engineer of human souls in some countries such as Russia and China.

Other frequently cited reasons for not to go teaching is that teaching has not much opportunity for career advancement (43%). In general, opportunities for career advancement are tied to the growth of compensations. The lack of career growth means no much pay raise. Thus, this reason is related to the salary issue. This study indicated that there are career pathway programs available to move teachers ahead, but students in the survey may not be aware of them. 

Based on this study, the researchers specifically recommend salary increase among public school teachers. As discussed, salary was identified as a major reason that students were not considering teaching. To compete for higher-performing students’  interest, the average starting salary for teachers should be raised. Based on results from our survey , starting salary would need to be increased to at least $50,000 to be a substantial drawing factor, or about $5,000 more than the average starting salary for recent college graduates generally.

As elucidated in this study, to provide the next generation of students with a high-quality education, it is important to recruit academically prepared students both by making the teaching profession more attractive to academically prepared students as well as by generally increasing college readiness among all students. Neither of these goals is easy to achieve, but both are critical to ensuring that academically prepared students enter the teaching profession. The authors of this study make three recommendations to improve teacher recruitment among students: 1) increase salaries for beginning teachers; 2) implement targeted career pathways and 'grow-your-own' programs; and 3) inform students about the full compensation package of teachers, and how that package compares to other entry-level jobs after graduation.


Croft, M., Guffy, G., & Vitale, D. (June 2018). Encouraging More High School Students to Consider Teaching. ACT Research & Policy.  Retrieved from https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/pdfs/Encouraging-More-HS-Students-to-Consider-Teaching.pdf

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