Downtrend in first-time educators an “anomaly”
Though first-year teacher hiring rates in Texas sharply declined, University administrators have been given positive feedback from districts and graduates on the state of job prospects for those with a UH degree.
First-year teacher hiring rates dropped by more than 40 percent in the last four years, according to the Houston Chronicle, but enrollment in the College of Education has been consistent. In Fall 2013, there were 2,487 students enrolled in the college, according to UH.
Communication director of the college Jeylan Yassin said the college has seen a “substantial upswing” in the recent hiring of its graduates. She attributed this to the college’s well-rounded, technologically in-tune curriculum.
“Expectations for new teachers are high regardless of the hiring climate. This is why we ensure students are prepared using 21st–century methods, the latest research and intensive real-world training,” Yassin said. “Our student teachers and graduates benefit from exceptional field experiences.”
Though the statistics may point to a drastic downward trend in education, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Teacher Education Melissa E. Pierson said she believes this isn’t a trend: It’s an anomaly. The data was collected in 2011, at a time when deep budget cuts and layoffs were still shaking the Texas education system. As schools bounced back, hiring priority was given to those who were laid off, she said.
Even with the harsh climate for first-year teachers, Pierson said that graduates from the University are often sought out by districts.
“Now, districts are hiring hundreds of teachers; lots of our December graduates were hired,” Pierson said. “(The districts) tell us all the time that the UH applications are at the top of their stack. They definitely like to hire our student teachers, and they’re happy with them.”
Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction Laveria Hutchison said that the integration of technology and curriculum adaptability is what sets graduates apart from the pack.
“Giving them basic instruction tools that will teach all learners — not just accelerated learners, but all learners — I think that’s important. They can differentiate instruction to meet the learning needs of all kids: they know how to assess, reteach, use data to inform their practice, and I think that’s a way that we are different (from other universities).”
The College of Education is partnered with 34 area school districts through the Houston Area Teacher Center, Yassin said.