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The National Center for Education Statistics (1998) predicts that by 2008 approximately 2.4 million teachers will be needed in this country, at a rate of over 200,000 per year. Several factors contribute to this prediction. First, due to increased birth rates and immigration (Darling-Hammond, 1999), student enrollment is expected to pass 54 million by that time -- its highest in the history of this country (NCES, 1998). Second, more than 33% of the current teaching force is age 50 or older (Recruiting New Teachers, 1998) and likely to retire within the next decade. Third, recommendations, if not regulations, reducing the number of students in each classroom mean that more teachers will be needed for these smaller classes (NASBE, 1998). And, lastly, teachers, both novice and experienced, are leaving the profession (Darling-Hammond, 1999; Delgado, 1999; Stallsmith, 1999, snider, 1999.
Much of the research on teacher retention has been piecemeal, and few studies have used a comprehensive model or framework of attrition and retention. Available research results indicate that teachers' career decisions are related to a wide variety of variables. Ingersoll(1998) concludes that it is a mistake, however, to assume that hiring difficulties and out-of-field teaching are the result of teacher shortages in the conventional sense of the availability of candidates willing to enter teaching. The demand for new teachers comes about primarily because teachers choose to move from or leave their jobs at far higher rates than do those in many other occupations (NCES, 1998). In the fifth Phi Delta Kappa poll of teachers' attitudes toward the public school, finding revealed that more teachers today say their schools ave trouble retaining teachers (Langdon, 1999)
Teaching is a complex profession, requiring many pre-requisite skills and extensive training for those who engage in it. Lanier (1999) suggests that the responsibilities of teachers have evolved from distributing facts to a present-day focus on helping children learn to use facts by developing skills for critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, and crating their own knowledge. Although the Standards of Learning (1995) require that Virginia teachers pay particular attention to cognitive development and knowledge acquisition, student needs often demand that teachers also assume the roles of counselor, nurse, parole officer, and caregiver (Bullard, 1998) before cognitive development can be addressed in the classroom. Teachers typically are given minimal time for the preparation and planning required for their complex responsibilities, and they are, many times, isolated from the support and knowledge of colleagues as their work with students (Holmes Group, 1986). Job requirements for teachers also include clerical and supervisory skills for dealing with non-instructional duties. Additionally, teachers must be knowledgeable about the guidelines of various state and federal programs in their school, as well as familiar with the community culture in which they teach.
The purpose of this review is to outline those factors contributing to the teacher shortage in the Commonwealth of Virginia and to identify effective strategies for recruiting and retaining quality teachers for Virginia Schools. Given the importance of the teaching profession to the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is imperative that Virginians examine the current state of the profession and anticipate the need for teachers in the new millennium.
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