Teacher Retention

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Research Question: What role does teacher recruitment and retention play in creating student achievement in urban schools?

What keeps teachers in the classroom, while others flee to “greener pastures?” What can we do to increase the holding power of the educational arena? The answers to these questions are unclear and multi-faceted. Creating a stable teaching force in the American public school systems is urgent and requires immediate attention. High turnover rates create instability in the American school system. An unstable workforce affects a schools ability to create coherent and progressive instruction across grade levels and make it difficult for schools to implement new, innovative, and lasting reform initiatives that produce achievement. “The current teacher shortage represents arguably the most imminent threat to the nation’s schools. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that approximately 2.2 million teachers will be needed over the next decade-an average of more than 200,000 new teachers annually,” (Howard, 2003, p.1). In order to decrease this astounding attrition rate we must address a variety of issues. Research shows that teachers are leaving the profession for a variety of reasons: poor working conditions, lack of administrative support, low salary scales, and insufficient teacher preparation programs. Effective teacher retention and recruitment is an important factor in determining a schools learning environment. “Substantial research evidence suggests that well-prepared capable teachers have the largest impact on student learning,” (Darling-Hammond, 2003, p.7). High teacher turnover, inconsistent teacher retention, and the quality of available personnel to recruit negatively affect the stability of the educational process. Experienced teachers provide students with a wealth of knowledge, better instructional practices, motivation, and dedication. Experienced teachers have a profound impact on a students’ achievement level. Student achievement decreases exponentially in relationship to the quality of the teacher. Students’ need and deserve to be taught by well-prepared and knowledgeable teachers.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires that highly qualified teachers staff all classrooms nationwide. This is a major challenge for both inner city and rural schools. The problem does not lie in the number of certified teachers available, but instead in our ability to attract these teachers to the schools that desperately need them. Research confirms that approximately one-third of new teachers that enter the profession leave with in the first five years. These individuals include movers (who may transfer from one district to another) and leavers (those who leave the profession all together). Most severely impacted by these phenomenon are schools that reside in low poverty areas. Urban schools are being forced to staff their schools with teachers who are not highly qualified. “According to the RNT survey, more than 80 percent of urban districts hire non-certified: close to 60 percent hire teachers with emergency permits: and 60 percent use long-term substitutes,” (Howard, 2004, p. 146). These individuals are not properly prepared to teach and are a major reason why our schools are failing our urban students. These atrocious figures clearly demonstrate our nation’s desperate need to decrease teacher attrition rates. We must find ways to staff our schools with teachers who are prepared to step up to the challenge and create effective and lasting change in our nations’ urban schools.

“In all schools, regardless of wealth, student demographics, or staffing patterns, the most important resource for continuing improvement is the knowledge and skill of the school’s best-prepared and most committed teachers,” (Darling-Hammond, 2003, p. 9). The four major factors that strongly impact a teachers (whether new or tenured) decision to either enter the profession of teaching or leave the profession...
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