The Four Biggest Factors In Teacher Turnover

Teacher turnover is a major problem in education that affects student, teachers, and administrators alike. But what’s behind the massive migration and exodus of new teachers? And what’s to be done about it? Researchers have identified four major factors that should be addressed to reduce teacher turnover and to retain them for a longer duration in the profession.

1. Compensation

Some studies suggest that, contrary to popular belief, salary is not the number one reason for teachers’ leaving the profession, although sufficient evidence indicates that it plays a significant role. Those who teach in-demand subjects like mathematics and science are more likely to quit because they receive more attractive offers for opportunities outside the teaching profession. While salary is a major factor in attrition among young teachers who are beginning their careers, it also acts as a deterrent to the retention of experienced and well-qualified teachers.

2. Working Conditions

According to a national survey, teachers place a lot of importance on their working conditions and consider it a key factor in their decision to leave or continue in the teaching profession. Good working conditions include administrative support, availability of professional resources, freedom to express their opinions on matters related to their profession, and the empowerment to influence policy in their schools.

Research studies reveal that the teachers who work in affluent and advantaged communities experience better working conditions than those who work in low-income communities. These conditions include lesser numbers of students to teach and more decision-making power in their schools. Teachers who work with disadvantaged students experience less appealing working conditions, with limited administrative support, fewer textbooks and supplies, and larger student groups to handle. Thus, it is evident that working conditions play an important role in a teacher’s decision to continue or leave the teaching profession, and that they contribute significantly to high teacher attrition rates.

3. Teacher Education

It is evident from several research studies that better prepared teachers stay in teaching for longer periods of time. This is especially true for those who complete traditional teacher education programs, as compared to those who are trained for a few weeks before being released into the student community.

Not all alternative pathways are ineffective or poorly conceived. Some well-designed post- baccalaureate programs enable students to acquire the same high standards as those who graduate from traditional teacher education colleges. This is accomplished by combining traditional coursework with a well-established fieldwork training experience.

However, alternative routes that do not provide adequate training and mentoring to prospective teachers add to the “revolving door” syndrome that currently plagues the teaching profession.

4. Mentoring

Without good mentors, new teachers can feel lost, frustrated, and stuck. It’s much harder to get out of a problem not faced before without the guidance of someone who already knows the solution. It’s also much easier to keep making the same mistakes without the wise word of an outside perspective. Learn more about the importance of mentoring in reducing teacher turnover in future articles!

Are you interviewing for a new placement? Ask your prospective employers what they’re doing to reduce teacher turnover. Are you already working at a school? Ask your administrators what steps are being taken to address turnover at your site. If there’s no plan in place, look over the list above and come up with some suggestions of how to tackle the four big problem areas within your district!

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