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At this time, when the need for good teachers and good teaching is unprecedented, America is experiencing a shortage of qualified individuals prepared to take on the challenges of the profession, particularly in critical shortage areas, such as math and science or special education. Moreover, there is continuing concern that processionals are leaving the teaching field much earlier in their careers than are professionals from other fields. The National Center for Education Statistics (1997c) reports that across the nation 9.3% of public school teachers leave their positions within their first three years of teaching. Additionally, nearly 30% of teachers leave the profession within five years of entry and even higher attrition rates exist in more disadvantaged schools (Delgado, 1999; Darling-Hammond, 1999).
Ingersoll (1998) concludes that it is a mistake to assume that hiring difficulties are the result of teacher shortages in the conventional sense of the availability of candidates willing to enter the profession. The demand for new teachers comes about primarily because teachers choose to move from or leave their jobs at far higher rates than do professionals in many other occupations (NCES, 1998). “We’re misdiagnosing the problem as ‘recruitment’ when it’s really ‘retention'” (Merrow, 1999, p 64). In the fifth Phi Delta Kappa poll of teachers’ attitudes toward the public schools, finding revealed that more teachers today say their schools have trouble retaining teachers (Langdon, 1999).
This study was commissioned to identify those variables affecting teacher retention and attrition and to identify effective strategies for retaining quality teachers for Virginia schools.
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VCU MERC Publications