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How to Reduce Turnover in the Teaching Profession

Janelle Cox

Turnover in the teaching profession affects many school districts. Data from the latest National Center for Education Statistics show that upwards of 90 percent of teacher positions are created by teachers who leave. While some of those positions are because of retirement, about two-thirds of teachers leave for other reasons. Who is leaving the teaching profession and what are the reasons for leaving? Understanding the causes of teacher turnover in the teaching profession is important in order to reduce the teacher shortage. Key influences of leaving have been said to include lack of support, opportunities for advancement, and dissatisfaction with testing and working conditions.

Teacher turnover is costly, and not just for the schools that lose their teachers, but for the students who suffer because they leave. According to the Learning Policy Institute, there are five ways to reduce the teacher turnover rate. The following strategies are the key to building a stable work environment for teachers.

Strengthen Teacher Preparation in the Teaching Profession

The first thing that educational leaders and policy makers can do to reduce the teacher turnover rate is to improve and strengthen teacher preparation programs. Research shows that teachers who are not prepared are 2.5 times more likely to leave their job within the first year then those who are prepared.

The strongest influence on students in the classroom is the teacher that is standing in front of them. So creating teacher preparation programs that can help to recruit individuals and provide financial support as prospective teachers prepare to become effective educators will help to keep teachers in the field. Policymakers can strengthen these programs by partnering with schools and programs to identify and develop talented candidates. These individuals can then work as paid apprentices to expert teachers while learning their craft.

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Improve Hiring Practices

School districts can adopt effective hiring practices to attract and retain prospective teachers. Some school districts have a weak or outdated hiring process. The Learning Policy Institute suggests to offer incentives for teachers who notify districts when they plan to retire. This will help the administration be able to hire participants earlier and choose from the best candidate pool.

Another suggestion is to conduct an exit interview. This will help administration understand why the teacher is leaving so they can better prepare prospective teachers to stay in the profession.

Expand Teacher Mentoring Programs

Teachers who are not in a mentoring program are said to leave at more than twice the rate of a teacher who is in a supportive program. This report shows that induction and support for new teachers can not only increase teacher retention, but help to accelerate their professional growth as a teacher. Investing in quality induction programs that include mentoring and feedback from veteran teachers will help raise the rate of teachers staying in the profession.

Policymakers can reduce teacher workloads and offer extra assistance for novice teachers. In addition to that, this report suggests training mentors and supporting them by creating an ongoing program.

Improve Administrative Support and Working Conditions

One of the top reasons teachers leave their job is because of lack of support from administration. The second reason is because of their working conditions. Investing in high-quality principals who work together with teachers is one way to reduce the teacher turnover rate. Another suggestion is to offer effective principal preparation programs that help new principals to learn how to work with their staff.

Surveying teachers to assess the quality of their working conditions is another way to find out if teachers are satisfied with their job. These surveys will help to improve conditions so that educators are able to teach in a comfortable work environment.

Increase Teacher Compensation

A new teacher makes about 20 percent less then individuals with college degrees in another field. By increasing a teachers’ overall compensation to be competitive with other occupations, teachers will more likely to stay in the profession.

Providing stipends to teachers in high-need schools, offering housing incentives for teachers who need to relocate for their job, and offering additional compensation for veterans who are in leadership roles are all ways to keep the teacher turnover rate down.

Retaining excellent teachers is critical for the academic success of all students. Luckily, there is a lot of research that is being conducted on how to decrease teacher turnover and increase the likelihood that teachers will stay in the profession until retirement. To ensure that the turnover rate remains low, policymakers must address this issue now by following the strategies mentioned above.

What is your take on teacher shortage in the teaching profession? Please share your thoughts about this topic in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.