What Keeps Good Teachers in the Classroom? Understanding and Reducing Teacher Turnover
Public school teacher attrition would be lessened if schools offered new teachers more support and guidance with curriculum development, induction programs, mentoring, and professional-development opportunities, concludes a policy brief by the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that works to improve secondary education and college access.
The report estimates that about 150,000 teachers leave the profession every year and about 230,000 switch schools. Generally, the report found that teachers who had graduated from very selective colleges, or had high SAT scores, were more likely to either leave the teaching profession before retirement, or transfer to higher-performing schools, compared with teachers who had graduated from less-selective colleges or had lower SAT scores.
The study also found that the high turnover numbers in teaching do not necessarily indicate that schools are losing their best teachers, because teachers who are rated as low-performing are 13 percent more likely to either leave the profession, or switch to a different school district, than teachers who receive higher ratings.
Still, the report points out that retaining teachers in high-poverty schools is especially difficult, with an annual turnover rate of 20 percent in those schools, compared with the 13 percent annual turnover rate of teachers in low-poverty schools.
The report concludes that efforts that succeed in improving student achievement would lessen teacher attrition, and it recommends that schools accomplish this by strengthening teacher-training programs and teacher support.
A version of this article appeared in the March 05, 2008 edition of Education Week