Friday, August 26, 2005

It's not only finding new teachers, it's finding replacements for the ones that leave

The Chicago Sun-Times for August 18, 2005 reports on a study by the National Center for Education Information. According to the study, 40% of public school teachers plan to leave the profession within five years. For high school, the rate is expected to be 50% leaving by 2010. Retirement is a key factor as the teaching population is aging, and also many of the new teachers today are career changers who come into teaching in their 30s and 40s. In addition, if readers go to the NCEI Web site, they will find more information from the survey. In the news release about the study, it is revealed that this aging population is predominantly female (no surprise there), and that they mostly oppose standardized testing. The study does reveal that the teachers are overall satisfied with their job and that they are in it mostly because they enjoy working with young people. It is a reason for concern given the teacher shortages in the nation and the fact that there is a severe shortage of male teachers, which in spite of efforts, does not seem to be getting better. Add to this things like salaries being an issue, which the study does mention as well, and I think serious measures need to be taken, other than lip service, to staff classrooms with the best teachers available.

For further insights on teachers, especially new young teachers, readers may want to look over the "Elementary/Secondary School Teaching Among Recent College Graduates: 1994 and 2001," published by the National Center for Education Statistics. It looks at issues such as satisfaction with teaching experiences, perceptions of teachers, and it provides some interesting figures. However, it still mentions that attrition and retention are concerns for administrators and policy makers.

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