Report Identifies Key Challenges, Characteristics of U.S. Colleges of Education

(August 9, 2018, Washington, D.C.)Colleges of Education: A National Portrait, a report released today by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), provides a comprehensive picture of the nation’s schools, colleges and departments of education: the work that they do, the people who do that work and the students they serve.

Because teacher preparation is so important to society and central to the work of most colleges of education, the report describes in detail the key trends and challenges in meeting the nation’s need for profession-ready teachers. It also portrays the full spectrum of undergraduate and graduate programs, research and service that are in the broader portfolio of colleges of education.

“As AACTE celebrates its 70th anniversary, 2018 is an opportune time to take stock of the many contributions that schools, colleges and departments of education make to the American education system,” said Lynn M. Gangone, president and CEO of AACTE. “An anniversary is also an occasion to look ahead to the future, and this report documents some significant challenges colleges of education will face as they prepare professionals for increasingly diverse and complex educational environments.”

Using data from an array of governmental and organizational sources, the report highlights several key themes:

  • The nearly 1,700 schools, colleges and departments of education around the country reflect the scope and scale of education in the United States and make significant contributions to the American system of education through teaching, research and service.
  • Enrollment declines challenge colleges of education to meet the needs of America’s schools, especially in key shortage fields such as math, science and special education. The report charts enrollments over time by major, level, gender and other factors to convey a clearer sense of trends in the education landscape.
  • Despite considerable efforts to recruit and retain diverse students, those preparing to become PK-12 educators are not as diverse as the schools and students they will serve. At the undergraduate level, education is the second-least diverse field; only agriculture has a larger percentage of white students. The report finds much stronger minority representation at the doctoral level, where education is more diverse than the rest of the graduate student body.
  • An expected wave of faculty retirements–the average age of full professors of education is 61–will present both challenges and opportunities as colleges of education evolve to meet the needs of new generations of aspiring educators and of the changing schools and other educational organizations where they will work.

Colleges of Education: A National Portrait is the first in what AACTE plans as a series of reports on key issues for its membership. The full report is available only to AACTE members; the executive summary is available to the public at


About AACTE: The Leading Voice on Educator Preparation

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are profession-ready as they enter the classroom. Nearly 800 member institutions include public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Through advocacy and capacity building, AACTE promotes innovation and effective practices that strengthen educator preparation. Learn more at