A Portrait of High School History Teachers: Mixed Verdict

Historians in the News

A new report from the Department of Education offers a few clues about how many history teachers there are and their qualifications for the classroom. Based on an extensive Department of Education survey in the 2003–04 school year, the authors of the report estimate that 57,200 teachers had history as their main subject assignment. The number of history teachers fell well behind the number of teachers in English (134,900) and mathematics (128,500), but well above 13 other subjects in the report.

The principal purpose of the report is to assess the qualifications these teachers bring into the classroom, looking particularly at whether they majored in the subject and whether they have certifications to teach in the field. The authors of the study report that two-thirds of high school history teachers (67.4 percent) majored in the subject in college, but only a third (36.7 percent) were certified to teach in the field. Just 30 percent of history teachers had both majored in the field and were certified to teach it.

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