Teacher Retention A Critical National Problem Education Essay


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"It is commonly known that 50% of the new teachers leave the profession within the first five years of teaching" (Teacher Retention a Critical National Problem). Too add, most of the students enrolled to major in education, are clueless to the thought whether they will complete and succeed in the teaching profession. No one can fully predict whether one teacher will remain in the profession for their entire life (retention) or to leave the profession (attrition). The reasons of layoffs, lower resources, and increased class size that affect a teachers' daily work are resulted from the decisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It is stated in the article of Who Will Stay and Who Will Leave: "teachers are generally considered directly responsible for student achievement and, thus, are often implicated in issues related to school failure" (Burns, 2007). The typical reasons and causes for the attrition of teachers are retirement, family reasons, pregnancy and child rearing, wanting better salary, and wanting to pursue a different career.

The study revealed in the article used a survey of districts, schools, principals, teachers, and staff. The study is administered about every 4 years and was designed to contain data to researchers and rule/policy makers viewing teacher supply and demand issues, nationally. The purpose was to view English teachers' risk for attrition by using data for the population of secondary public school English educators in the U.S. "Our analysis showed that teachers' perceptions of their training (having formal observations and feedback), were not statistically significant predictors of attrition risk" (Further Questions).

Setting/Participants and Methodology

This article showed a survey administrated by the U.S. Census Bureau that surveyed 62,000 teachers from 13,300 schools in 5,400 school districts across the United States. The teacher participants were chosen by different categories. The categories that they were chosen by are teaching assignments, educational background, professional development, resource access, student characteristics, working conditions, peer attitudes, school climate, and general employment conditions. The study focused on 4,520 full time English, composition, and language arts teachers who had participated in School and Staff Survey (SASS), which is a national survey of districts, schools, principals, teachers, and staff (Hancock & Scherff, 2010).

In order to evaluate the decision teachers made, researchers had to gain access to the U.S. Department of Education database. Once access to the database was granted, they were able to read over surveys of schools, districts, teachers, principals and staff. Researchers looked over the 2003-2004 School and Staff Survey (SASS) in order for them to see the data of teachers being hired. They read over interviews and gathered information on data about full time teachers of different subjects. They studied these findings and established a variety of teacher's attrition. They use different variables to study the attrition of teachers in different teaching settings. The variables were obtained through many other attrition studies concentrated on areas other than English. The study is this particular article was focused on only English teachers.


The overall purpose of the research and analysis of the data recovered was to inform the schools of the reason teachers leave their profession. The results from the experiment were retrieved though two stages of analysis. The preliminary stage was screened to decrease Type II error, the idea that the independent variable in unrelated to the study, as well as to lessen the possibility of variables at the early levels of attrition. During this stage, 32 variables were screened in order to relate them to the low or high attrition risk level. The experiment concluded with 5 significant variables of attrition. The second stage consisted of a logistic regression model used to predict English teachers' potential risk of attrition. Of all the 32 variables evaluated during the preliminary stages there were only 15 that were considered predictors of attrition found among the secondary English teachers evaluated. The 15 considered influential consisted of years of full-time teaching experience, negative school climate, salary, minority status, participation in mentoring and induction programs, support from peers, and support for teaching special needs students. But the top three most directly related to the outcome were as follows: administrative support, absenteeism, and hours worked beyond the regular school day. The other variables tested did not qualify to move on to the next stage. After extensive analysis, the final stage, acknowledged 5 significant variables as: minority status, years of teaching experience, teacher apathy, peer support, and administrative support. These five variables are now considered predictors of determining secondary English teachers at a high or low risk for attrition.


Teacher retention and attrition, what importance does it really have? Working in schools and the actual teaching impact whether or not a teacher leaves or stays in their profession. Most view teachers as the holders of responsibility for student success which English teachers hold the greatest burden in preparing students for high level exams and so on. The entire article demonstrates how English teachers (mostly those new to the profession) hold a large risk in attrition due to factors such as narrowed curriculum, unfriendly and harsh faculty, negative environments and routines, absence of administrative support, feeling overwhelmed, etc. It is important for young individuals, future educators, teachers, parents, and educational leaders to get an understanding of why teachers leave or stay with the profession. Knowing attrition and retention rates can persuade teachers in thinking if it is the right profession for them. Educational leaders must realize the need for teachers and realize the issues within a school system to improve and increase retention rates. Though young individuals, teachers, parents, and educational leaders must have an awareness of this issue, creating discussion groups with administrators and teachers could benefit with more teacher retention. Establishing programs in employing and supporting minority teachers (such as Project 29), exposing future educators to different fields, having longer field experience, collaborative planning, and even programs similar to the S.T.E.P. program (for future educators to experience right from the start whether or not to pursue the profession) would all be recommendations in improving teacher retention and decreasing teacher attrition. By creating a more open and unified education system, retention rates just might increase drastically.

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