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Out-of-Field Teaching in Iowa’s Middle School Family and Consumer Sciences Programs Gretchen A. Mosher, Cheryl O. Hausafus, and Margaret C. Torrie Iowa.

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Presentation on theme: "Out-of-Field Teaching in Iowa’s Middle School Family and Consumer Sciences Programs Gretchen A. Mosher, Cheryl O. Hausafus, and Margaret C. Torrie Iowa."— Presentation transcript:

1 Out-of-Field Teaching in Iowa’s Middle School Family and Consumer Sciences Programs Gretchen A. Mosher, Cheryl O. Hausafus, and Margaret C. Torrie Iowa State University Out-of-field teaching is a common phenomenon in the K-12 education system in the United States. This alarming situation provided impetus for President Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) initiative, setting a goal that by the end of the school year, every state should have a well- prepared teacher in every classroom (United States Department of Education, n.d.). Out-of-field teaching is the practice of teaching in a subject or subjects for which the instructor has little training or education or has neither a college major or minor in the field they are teaching (Ingersoll,1999). Iowa’s middle school family and consumer sciences (FCS) programs were targeted for this study for several reasons. First, no data was being collected through the state department of education to describe FCS teacher preparation at the middle school level. Based on current literature, middle school students are almost twice as likely to have an out-of-field teacher. Students who attend smaller schools, schools in lower income areas, and those students who are low-achieving all have a higher chance of having an out-of-field teacher. Iowa has many small and low income schools where FCS teachers are working with lower- achieving students. Teacher shortages add to this problem. Based on these reasons, the goals of this study were to answer three questions about out-of-field teaching in Iowa’s middle school family and consumer sciences classes. 1. Is out-of-field teaching occurring in Iowa’s middle school FCS programs, and if so, what factors contribute to higher rates of out-of-field teaching? 2. What effects do school characteristics have on rates of out- of-field teaching in Iowa’s FCS middle school programs? 3. How likely are Iowa’s middle school FCS programs to experience higher levels of out-of-field teaching in the future? In Iowa, an endorsement in family and consumer sciences is not required to teach at the middle school level in the field (Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, 2002). No data is kept in Iowa about the educational background or preparation of middle school teachers who lead family and consumer sciences classes. To gather the data needed to meet the objectives of this study, a mailed questionnaire was used as the survey instrument. The questionnaire was developed using the research questions. The instrument consisted of seven sections. These seven sections included: family and consumer sciences programs at the middle schools, educational backgrounds of the teachers, teaching assignments, college preparation, school district characteristics, teaching history and future plans, and teacher demographics. The population for this study consisted of all middle school FCS teachers in Iowa’s public schools. An electronic list of the 395 public middle schools was provided by the Iowa Department of Education for the Questionnaires were mailed to 252 middle school FCS educators at 241 middle schools. In all, 176 usable questionnaires were returned, resulting in a 72% response rate. Respondents were split into three groups: those with a major in FCS education, those with a minor in FCS education, and those with neither a major or minor in FCS education. The group with neither a major or minor in FCS education are classified as out-of-field teachers. Based on the data collected from this study, Iowa currently has an out-of-field teaching rate of less than 10% in middle school FCS programs. Although the F-test and the Tukey method identified several variables which differed between the three groups of teachers (major, minor, and neither), one cannot conclude with any degree of certainty that these factors cause higher rates of out-of-field teaching in Iowa’s middle school FCS programs. The data from this project also showed no connection between school characteristics and the rates of out-of-field teaching in middle school FCS programs. This contradicts the literature which states that teacher shortages are responsible for out-of-field teaching and that school size is a predictor of out-of-field teaching. The final research question addressing the future likelihood of out-of-field teaching in Iowa’s middle school FCS programs can be partially answered with the data collected. Figure 1 displays the frequency of responses to the question asking teachers what tools the administration in their district would employ if they could not fill a teaching vacancy. The top two options given would result in higher rates of out-of-field teaching. This study illustrates two points regarding Iowa’s middle school FCS programs. First, it presently appears as though most of Iowa’s middle school FCS teachers are certified in FCS. This is good news for now, but from the information given by teachers about their administrations’ perceived willingness to shift faculty schedules and hire teachers without the correct endorsement, out-of-field teaching in Iowa may increase in the future. In addition, many teachers are certified in FCS, but reported teaching in other areas. Using FCS teachers in other areas is not a wise use of the already small number. To assist in meeting the demand for FCS teachers, current teachers should continue to promote FCS education to secondary students as a challenging and rewarding career. Purpose of Study ProcedureFindings Implications The descriptive statistics illustrated another interesting trend. Sixty percent of teachers reported they knew of no one within the district who could replace them if they resigned or retired; however, 40% teachers could identify a possible replacement within their school district. The data from this question are shown in Figure 2. Based, on the information gathered, the possibility of an increase in out-of-field teaching in Iowa’s middle school FCS programs seems almost certain.


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