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The Key to Keeping Teachers

Learning Policy Inst graph Keeping Teachers
From the new report by the Learning Policy Institute.

Well-known fact: We have a teacher shortage, both in California and the nation. A new report by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) finds that the percentage of public school teachers leaving the profession rose from 5.1 percent in 1992 to 8.4 percent in 2005, and has been hovering around 8 percent since then. The 3 percent increase amounts to about 90,000 additional teachers needing to be hired across the U.S. each year.

In high-achieving school systems such as those in Finland, Singapore, and Ontario, Canada, annual teacher attrition rates typically average 3 to 4 percent.

If about half of the U.S. teachers who leave the profession each year could be induced to stay, the national shortage “could be virtually eliminated,” states the report.

“Teacher Turnover: Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It,” published in August, says that while some teachers leave due to retirement, about two-thirds leave for other reasons, mostly due to dissatisfaction. “The workplace condition most predictive of teacher turnover was perceived lack of administrative support,” states the report.

CTA President Eric Heins says the findings are consistent with his own experience as a teacher and with CTA research. “Teachers would stay longer if they were treated as the professionals they are — treated with respect and given a voice.” He adds that it’s critical to get educators the right support and development.

The LPI report includes recommendations for teacher preparation and support, compensation, and school leadership (primarily principals) training.

View the full report.

Featured photo: Calistoga High School’s Maggie Swarner, center, teaches a class for students interested in teaching and STEM education. Credit: Scott Buschman

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