The following is an excerpt from Chapter 10: “Teacher Growth, Development, and Attrition” of Dr. Dianna Whitlock’s published book, “Teacher Evaluation as a Growth Process.” To purchase the full book, visit Amazon or Barnes&Noble.
Part 1, Chapter 10: Teacher Growth, Development, and Attrition
In the not so distant past, graduates of teacher education programs were scrambling for employment, sometimes only to be laid off a few years later. These Reduction in Force (RIF) procedures were so common during the 1990’s and early 2000’s that most beginning teachers felt fortunate to have a teaching position and seldom left it to explore other options.
Fast forward 20-25 years, and young beginning teachers of the millennial generation are shopping schools to find the teaching situation that best fits their needs and preferences. If they are unhappy where they are, another school is hiring next year.
Within the next ten years, this shortage is expected to continue, with an alarming loss of 100,000 teachers annually (Darling-Hammond, as cited by Stratford, 2016). This group cites concern over low enrollment in teacher education programs and increasing student enrollment in preK-12 schools.
The teacher attrition rate, or percentage of teachers who either change schools or exit the profession, is 16% for the public-school sector alone (Redding, 2018). Of those leaving the teaching profession annually, less than one-third are retiring (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2017). Teachers seem to be exiting teaching positions in high poverty schools twice as quickly as those in more affluent areas.
There are several theories as to why this attrition rate is on the rise. Many cite low pay, the demands of excessive student testing, and increased violent behaviors on the part of students as possible causes. Some are even comparing the number of teachers who attended traditional teacher preparation programs to those who transitioned to education from other programs, and found that there may be more teachers leaving who come from non-traditional pathways into the profession (Redding, 2018).
A lack of supportive environment has also been cited as a factor in teacher turnover. While this may appear to be obvious, a study in subsequent chapters will discuss this in greater detail. A 2016 study by Standard For Success found that teachers who receive frequent, consistent feedback are less likely to become frustrated and leave the profession (Standard For Success Survey Data, 2016). Since this is the case, we must, as school leaders, find ways to encourage and support our existing teachers. Not only is it the ethical thing to do, but it is the most cost effective as well. New research suggests that it costs more than $20,000 to replace a teacher in an urban setting (Barnes, G., Crowe, E., & Schaefer, B., as cited by Carver-Thomas, & Darling Hammond, 2017). This does not include salary replacement, only the cost of teacher search, recruitment, and training. Considering the high cost of employee turnover, improvement of performance is preferable to teacher dismissal. Of greater cost is the loss of instructional time for students during a transition of teachers in a classroom.
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