Teacher retention seems to be an ongoing conversation. “Why are teachers leaving?” and “Where are they going?” are among other recurring questions surrounding the issue. This is not a surprise since a large factor in the effectiveness of a school is based on the school’s ability to hire and retain effective educators. In the past, teacher shortages have led districts to hire teachers who are not fully prepared or qualified to teach. In fact, 90% of all teacher shortages are caused by teachers leaving the profession. Most teachers leave due to dissatisfaction with teaching. For these reasons, teacher attrition in the United States is twice as high as in most high-achieving countries. This blog will identify 4 ways teacher turnover is hurting education all over the nation.
The most common key influences on teacher attrition are lack of leadership support, working with districts with lower salaries, lack of advancement opportunities, as well as dissatisfaction with working conditions. Turnover rates in the United States are the highest in the South and lowest in the Northeast for teachers. These areas tend to have higher pay, support smaller classes, and make greater investments in education.
Teachers are the number one influence on student achievement and have a powerful impact on the level to which a student can master any given subject. These factors make the school’s ability to retain effective educators directly related to how effective schools are. But just filling vacancies may not be worth the cost. Research states that the hiring of inexperienced and unqualified teachers have a negative impact on student learning. The cost is actually significant on so many levels, not to mention financial!
Here are 4 ways teacher turnover is hurting education:
1. It Inhibits/Disrupts Learning
There is strong evidence that supports that turnover is linked with low student achievement. This evidence suggests that this connection is due to the loss of relationships and culture established by the teachers and the students. Students lose motivation, ability to adapt learning, trust among staff, the culture of collaboration, and knowledge about school strategies and initiatives when a teacher who has an established relationship leaves.
2. It's Expensive
The estimates for replacing a teacher comes at a significant cost! The expenses include hiring and on-boarding, coaching, professional development, and so much more. Estimates show that teacher replacements can total up to $20,000 per teacher or 2.2 billion a year! The cost of replacing teachers can become very striking really quickly to most leadership, especially since these expenses could be much better placed to something that benefits the students.
3. It Impacts the School Environment
High turnover causes toxic work environments. A high-stress school communicates harm not only to teachers but also to the student's physical and mental health. Research states that when teachers are highly stressed, students show lower levels of both social adjustment and academic performance.
4. It Discourages Future Educators
8% of our current educators are lost every year nationally, and the majority of them are not retiring but are quitting the field entirely. The school population will increase by 3 million in the next decade, and teacher shortages are at an all-time high. Uncertified teachers and teachers at high-minority schools are most likely to leave. This creates a bigger shortage of teachers at those schools, which pushes schools to hire more uncertified teachers—and the cycle continues.
It is important to realize that not all teacher attrition is negative. In fact, people often make poor career choices and realize their compatibility very early on. Teacher retention strategies tend to work best when the goal is to retain teachers who are more effective, and improve the performance of less effective teachers even if the conversation is that they choose a different route.