Program Brings More Men and Minorities to the Teaching Workforce, but Education Could Improve Management to Enhance Results

GAO-06-265: Published: Mar 1, 2006. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 2006.

Additional Materials:


Cornelia M. Ashby
(202) 512-6778


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

With the 2002 enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA), GAO was mandated to review the Troops-to-Teachers program, which provides financial assistance and counseling to help military personnel obtain their teacher licenses, especially in priority subject areas, such as math and science, and find employment in high-need districts and schools, as well as public charter schools. The U.S. Department of Education oversees the program, which received nearly $15 million in fiscal year 2004. This report identifies (1) the number and characteristics of program participants and factors affecting participation; (2) the recruitment and retention of participants in high-need districts and priority subject areas; and (3) the steps Education has taken to facilitate program management.

The 3,875 troops who were documented as having been hired through the program between the enactment of NCLBA in 2002 and June 30, 2005--the close of the 2004-2005 school year--contributed to gender and racial diversity in the teaching workforce. Over 80 percent of Troops teachers are male and over 25 percent are African American--characteristics that differ from the new teacher population overall. However, participation has recently decreased and hiring has been geographically concentrated. The majority of the program's teachers hired from school years 2001-2002 through 2004-2005 were employed in seven states. Most teachers receiving financial assistance through the program between the enactment of NCLBA and June 30, 2005, were placed in districts designated as high-need on the basis of serving children who qualify for federal assistance. About 90 percent of these funded participants continued teaching in high-need districts during their second year, and over 75 percent of the original group taught in high-need districts for a third year. About one-third of Troops hired during this period reported teaching in the priority areas of math, science, special education, or vocational education. Education has taken some steps to improve program management, but has not effectively coordinated resources with another teacher recruitment program also targeting military personnel. While Education has developed a draft work plan for Troops-to-Teachers and improved the definition of a high-need district for eligibility purposes, it has not assessed the data it uses to make high-need school determinations. Further, it disbanded a teacher policy group that once provided a forum for department managers to discuss recruitment and retention initiatives.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On June 1, 2006, the Secretary of Education wrote GAO to state that they had updated their data for the current fiscal year. Education now annually updates its definition of "large percentage" to reflect the US national average of IDEA recipients. Education uses the most recent data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics in the Digest of Educational Statistics that reflects changing school conditions. In particular, the National Center for Education Statistics annually publishes a table called "Number and percentage of children served under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B, by age group and state or jurisdiction" (accessible at The column "Disabled students as a percent of public school enrollment" provides the national average, and Education provides this number to the program to use as its threshold for "large percentage."

    Recommendation: To assist with the identification of eligible high-need schools and to help direct participants to them, the Secretary of Education should assess the reliability of the data the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) uses to determine a "large percentage" of students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and periodically review existing guidance to ensure that the eligibility threshold related to the IDEA criterion reflects the changing conditions in schools.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On June 1, 2006, the Secretary of Education wrote to GAO, stating that Education is now providing staff coverage of meetings across similar programs to encourage greater communication among program managers and program grantees.

    Recommendation: To better link programs that serve the military population and that relate to teacher recruitment and retention overall, the Secretary of Education should consider reconvening teacher policy groups or otherwise developing a plan to coordinate the use of existing departmental resources and staff assigned to monitor similar programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On June 1, 2006, the Secretary of Education wrote GAO, stating that the department had developed an efficiency measure for the Troops-to-Teachers program to determine whether the allocation of resources across placement offices is efficient and proper. The department collected and reviewed 2005 efficiency data on its placement offices for this measure. According to the department's initial review, officials found that some offices could be combined. While they are continuing to discuss office closures, they are mindful of yielding greater efficiencies across operations.

    Recommendation: To better exercise its discretion for grant-making to state placement offices and to ensure that budgets are created to reflect success in facilitating teacher placement, the Secretary of Education should consider data that DANTES collects on placement offices' cost per hire ratios, or develop other measures of efficiency, and take action when offices are deemed ineffective at helping participants find employment.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Jan 31, 2019

Oct 26, 2018

Sep 27, 2018

Sep 6, 2018

Aug 27, 2018

Jul 26, 2018

Jul 17, 2018

Jul 16, 2018

May 15, 2018

Apr 26, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here