The Importance of Teacher Retention in the Future Education Workforce

While the teaching profession has long attracted talented people who are passionate about education, amid growing demands on teachers and other factors, many of these same passionate teachers are choosing to leave the profession. 

School districts and education leaders across the country are looking for ways to reduce teacher turnover and many are approaching the problem as if the future of the education workforce—and the future of education itself—depends on it.

Why Teacher Turnover Rates are on the Rise

Research has revealed just how serious the teacher turnover problem has become. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the number of educators working in public education fell from 10.6 million to 10 million—a loss of 600,000 teachers—in the period between 2020 and 2022. And according to a 2022 survey conducted by the National Education Association (NEA), more than half of teachers said they planned to leave the profession earlier than expected. 

While the timing of the NEA survey reflected the frustration teachers felt in navigating the COVID-19 education environment, other factors were at play, as well. Ninety percent of teachers in the survey indicated they were burned out, nearly 80 percent felt they weren’t paid enough, and more than 40 percent pointed to a lack of respect from the public and from parents as a significant problem. 

In the Rand Corporation’s 2022 State of the American Teacher survey, teachers also called out the stress and disappointments of the job and lack of opportunities for professional advancement as among the top reasons they are either leaving or considering doing so.

The impact of this outflow of talented teachers is felt in multiple ways, as the turnover in the teacher ranks can disrupt student’s academic progress and, in many cases, amount to students losing valued mentors and role models in the classroom.

How to Retain More Teachers

If there is an upside to the teacher turnover problem, it’s that many of the causes are addressable. 

There have been multiple teacher retention strategies put forward for keeping teachers in the fold, including the following:

  • Assigning experienced teachers to serve as mentors to those who are new to the classroom.
  • Focusing on building a positive workplace culture that makes teachers feel valued, empowered, and supported.
  • Providing growth opportunities for teachers, including creating personalized growth plans that address their specific professional interests and career goals. 
  • Engaging teachers in retention conversations to identify—and focus on the needs of—those most at risk of leaving.
  • Celebrating teaching excellence and professional accomplishments.

As for educators themselves, they can help promote their own growth, stay engaged in their jobs, and even increase their earning potential by pursuing an advanced degree.

Take Control of Your Education Career

Advance your education career with a graduate education degree from John Carroll University. Our master’s degrees (M.Ed. and M.A.) offer coursework to prepare teachers for advanced certifications and specializations and open up new career opportunities, including moving into leadership roles in schools, districts, and other educational agencies. The flexible hybrid and online format allows for degree completion in two years—all while working full time. 

JCU is a private Jesuit university located in University Heights, Ohio, near Cleveland.