October 2017, Vol. 2

4 key factors impacting teacher retention

by Zach DiSchiano
 
Teacher turnover rates in the United States are highest in the South, and Texas is unfortunately not immune to the epidemic.
 
For HR administrators in Texas, it’s important to understand what’s behind the high turnover rates so you can better prevent teachers from leaving your district, or leaving the profession entirely.
 
A recent Learning Policy Institute (LPI) report released in August found 90 percent of vacant teaching positions are created by teachers leaving the profession—two-thirds of whom leave for reasons other than retirement. Research shows high turnover rates, in addition to causing headaches for district HR administrators, negatively impact student achievement.
 
It seems simple: to overcome the teaching shortage, just reduce teacher attrition. Of course it’s a bit more complex than that, but teacher turnover is a major contributor to the shortage and, consequently, limiting turnover is the most effective way to keep districts fully staffed.
 
There are four key factors impacting teacher retention:

1. Compensation

The first and most obvious factor in retaining quality educators is pay. Providing compensation packages competitive with those of neighboring districts as well as other occupations requiring similar levels of education allows for all schools to have a good shot at keeping their best teachers. Additionally, student loan forgiveness programs are a highly-sought benefit as tuition costs continue to rise.

2. Teacher preparation

The LPI report found those who entered the profession through an alternative certification program were 25 percent more likely to leave their schools than full-time teachers who entered the profession through a traditional certification program. While districts may prefer to hire teachers from a traditional teacher preparation program over an alternatively certified teacher, they’re not always afforded the luxury to choose. It’s also no surprise to see teachers who may feel unprepared or unqualified at a higher risk of leaving the field.

3. Administrative support

Of all contributors to teacher turnover, lack of administrative support may be the strongest. The LPI report stated teachers who strongly disagree that their administration is supportive are more than twice as likely to leave their school or the teaching profession as teachers who strongly agree their administration is supportive. The value of a high-quality principal can’t be understated. Teachers want to feel like the administrative staff is providing them with tools to be successful. Communicating with your teachers and understanding their needs will make them feel heard and less likely to leave your district.

4. Working conditions

The report also identified several factors that make up working conditions, and many of them directly impact teacher turnover. Some of the factors include (bolded items indicate a stronger relationship to teacher turnover):
 
  • Collegial relationships
  • Instructional leadership
  • School culture
  • Decision-making power
  • Facilities
  • Parental involvement
  • Professional development
  • Teaching resources
  • Time for collaboration and planning
 
Many of these probably look familiar, and there’s more and more attention being paid to improving things like school culture. At any rate, it’s important to see the specific qualities teachers are seeking in a workplace and adjust what you can accordingly. Like any industry, collegial relationships are paramount to employee satisfaction, and in this case, it ties in with school culture and instructional leadership. It’s all about having the right personnel.
 
If you want to dive into the research a bit more, check out the full report