Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Teacher Retention

Teacher Retention

Florida has the fourth largest school system in the nation. The Sunshine State has 67 school districts with more than 3,815 public schools that served over 2,535,155 students during the 2002-2003 academic year. Florida’s public school teachers are joined by counselors, media specialist, and school psychologists for a total of 157,981 instructional staff members.
Today, Florida has a greater demand for highly qualified teachers than any other time in history. Not only is teaching attracting a smaller share of the most skillful college graduates than in years past, it is also having trouble holding academically talented persons who do become teachers (Florida Department of Education, 2005). A disproportionate number of brighter teachers leave the classroom within a few years of entering, while their less qualified peers remain in the profession (Stager, 2000). This increased awareness has raised questions as to what factors contribute to the reasons teachers leave the teaching profession within the first five years of teaching.

The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that 25 percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years of teaching to pursue alternative careers. Another 25 percent leave because they are either not interested in teaching any longer or they are dissatisfied with the career. Forty percent of those who leave the profession stated that they would not return to teaching (Darling-Hammond, 1997). Darling-Hammond (1997) also noted that between 1988 and 1994, teacher attrition rates increased from 5.6 percent to 6.6 percent. This increase was, in part, a result of a greater number of retirements and also a result of the continuing high rates of beginning teacher attrition.

Stempien and Loeb (2002) reported that the occupational field of special education has been particularly vulnerable to losing its well-trained professional staff. Academic preparation and training of these teachers is costly and time-consuming, and replacing them is difficult. Additional studies conducted by Stempien and Loeb (2002) have focused on stress and job dissatisfaction as explanatory factors in motivating people to abandon their career. The connection between job stress and satisfaction has particularly been observed within special education and primary education (Eichinger, 2000).

Ponessa (1997) found that “as many as 50 percent of new teachers leave the teaching profession within the first 5 years of employment.” In response to the teacher shortage, needy school districts have sought various avenues which will allow teachers to be placed in a classroom more quickly. Many districts have created emergency and/or alternative certification programs of their own, eliminating the need for potential teachers to enroll in university-based teacher preparation programs which are considered more labor-intensive, time-consuming and expensive. This process has had a negative impact on the teacher shortage (Harrell, Leavell, Tassel, & McKee, 2004).

According to The National Center for Educational Statistics (1997) most U.S. corporations expect 6% of their employees to quit each year. For example if a district looses 6% of its 1,000 teachers making $25,000 per year, a replacement bill of approximately $375,000 is generated from this turnover. Respectfully, this money would be welcomed in other budget lines such as programs for retaining talented personnel (Norton (1999).

With the arrival of the 21st century, it is increasingly clear that schools must become more successful with a wide range of learners if more citizens are to acquire the sophisticated skills they need to participate in a knowledge based society (Kelly, 2004). It is increasingly clear that educator’s expertise and effectiveness is critical to the success of the American education. Ingersoll (2002) explained the kind of pedagogy needed to help students think critically, create, and solve complex problems as well as to master ambitious subject-matter content is much more demanding than that needed to impart routine skills.

While accurate measures of teacher attrition are important if school systems, administrators, and potential teachers are to effectively plan for the coming years, the need to identify factors which cause teachers to leave the profession is perhaps of greater importance. There is also an imminent danger that teaching will become a revolving door job and not a long term profession as experienced high quality teachers disappears from the classroom and the educational system all together (Darling-Hammond, 2002). However, in spite of the finding of this report additional research and information is needed to determine why teachers leave the teaching profession within the first 5 years of employment.


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Meggin LeVeaux said...


It sounds like our two school districts are very much alike. I am a teacher in Clark County, the third largest school district in the nation, and we have the same problems regarding teacher retention. I myself am an example of a highly qualified teacher who is planning on leaving the classroom as soon as my doctorate is complete. The reason that I plan on leaving is because I am not paid what I am worth as a professional. With my doctorate I will only be receiving an extra $500 a year. Monetarily speaking, I am much better off moving to a job that will pay me for the education that I have received.


Kevin Sandridge said...

Belinda, you are a kindred spirit indeed. I am a relatively new teacher here in Florida - coming in from 'out of field' under alternative cert myself. I attained the Middle Grades Int. Curric. cert and then moved on to get my Industrial Arts and Technology pro cert. I have been at Boone Middle School in Haines City from the start of my teaching career and love it. But just four years in and I already feel like an old timer. We who have remained joke around sometimes by saying that we measure years at Boone in "Dog Years."

I love my job and love my kids, and I cannot imagine belonging to another profession. Thanks for your great posts, I will add you to my feed reader for sure! If interested, check out my writings at Notes from the Ridge.


Kevin Sandridge