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Black Teachers’ Morale Score Compared to Retention Rates

Image of a Black teacher showing an iPad to students in a classroom

Recent teacher surveys show Black teachers’ morale is higher than all other teacher ethnicity groups, contrasting with this group’s high turnover rates.

According to the Education Week State of Teacher surveys, overall teacher morale remains low. The Teacher Morale Index survey provides an overall view of teachers’ past, current, and future perceptions of their workplace conditions and experiences. On a scale from -100 to +100, overall teacher morale stands at -13, but Black teachers’ morale surveyed at +5, indicating they feel much more positive about their jobs than teachers overall. See Measuring Teacher Morale for more information about this survey.

A survey by Educators for Excellence, a national group that advocates for teachers, found a similar trend for Black teacher morale stating their outlook has improved significantly over the past few years. This highlights a stark divergence from the general population of teachers.


Black teachers make up 6.1 percent of the teacher workforce nationally. In Texas, Black teachers make up 12.5 percent of the teacher workforce, closely matching the Black student population of 12.7 percent, according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

Contradictory to the recent morale index score, Black teachers have one of the highest teacher turnover rates at 22 percent nationally compared to 15 percent for their peers according to EdSource. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) reports the turnover rates for Black teachers in Texas have varied over the past five years, from 8 to 14 percent after the first year of teaching and from 17 to 22 percent after the second year of teaching.

An abundance of research confirms that having Black teachers in the classrooms matters, especially for Black students. Black students are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college, be placed in gifted and talented programs, and receive fewer disciplinary consequences when they have at least one Black teacher.


Black teachers initially report they tend to find their work meaningful and fulfilling due to having high hopes they are making a difference with students, particularly students of color. Teachers of color also were more likely to say the teaching profession is dynamic, rewarding, and collaborative. Further, 90 percent indicate they are “very likely” to spend their entire career as a classroom teacher compared to 77 percent.

Yet, Black teachers report their work has been scrutinized more closely than their peers and they have felt disrespected or undervalued, adding to job pressure and leading to significant burnout.

Knowing Black teachers start their careers with positive morale can serve as a call to action for school and district leaders to create supports to retain them. Ensuring Black teachers are included in overall staff functions, providing ongoing instructional supports, assisting with management of the workload, recognizing their work, and treating them respectfully are important first steps to increasing retention.

Additional teacher retention, engagement, and recognition information can be found in the HR Services Resource Library — Employee Engagement (member login required) and in the following HRX articles: 

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Cheryl Hoover
Cheryl Hoover

Cheryl Hoover joined HR Services in 2018. She assists with staffing and HR reviews, training, and other HR projects. During Hoover’s public school career, she served as an executive director of curriculum and principal leadership, executive director of human resources, principal, assistant principal, teacher, and coach.

Hoover earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin and obtained her master’s degree from Texas State University. She is a certified PHR.

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