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Department of Education Study Sheds Light on New Teacher Workforce
posted by: Alix | September 19, 2011, 05:29 PM   

One thing on which everyone in the education community can agree is the fact that effective teachers are the key to the overall success of our school system. In light of this consensus, the Department of Education has spent the past several years studying the behavior of new teachers and their career paths, of which the findings were released last week in an ongoing study. In an effort to understand the typical career journey of a new educator, the study tracks 2,000 teachers as they begin their teaching careers and follows their behavior patterns as they continue in both elementary and secondary settings.

NCES' Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study reflects the first three years of data among the 2,000 participants, which will continue for a minimum of five years. One of the many purposes of the study is to provide a better understanding of the impact that different life events have on teaching careers, including getting married, moving, or starting a family. It will also help to track patterns on how school or district policies affect teacher satisfaction and how teachers respond to transitions in their lives and careers.

Among the interesting findings:

  • Nearly 10% of teachers followed in the study left teaching after their first year.
  • After the first year, three-quarters of new teachers stayed in the same school in their second year of teaching, but the others moved on to another school or district.
  • Of those new teachers who were assigned a mentor by their school, 8% were not teaching in the following year, compared with 16% of those who were not assigned a mentor of any kind.
  • A slightly higher proportion of teachers with salaries of $40,000 or more were still teaching two years later, compared to those with salaries below that benchmark.

While the study is not yet complete, the most noteworthy statistic is the attrition rate of new teachers. In a climate where half our teaching workforce will be retiring in the next ten years, keeping effective teachers should be a focus among schools and districts. Whether it is through higher pay scales or quality mentorship programs, attracting and retaining our best and brightest to a career in teaching will be the goal for years to come.

What are your thoughts about the study? Do you think teacher attrition is our biggest obstacle in sustaining an effective workforce?

Comment below.

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