November 8, 2011 in Featured Posted by Gerry LeTendre
Teacher Attrition: From School Turnover to Transnational Migration
Teacher attrition has been an area of interest since (Ingersoll 2001) that teacher shortages in the US might actually be related to teachers leaving schools or the field itself, not a shortage of newly trained teachers. An analysis of the Schools and Staffing Survey (Marvell 2007) looked at “movers” and “leavers” and provided a baseline study that indicates significant turnover around the nation. Attrition appears to be an ideal concept to develop further as it plays a role at local, state/provincial and national levels.
From an international perspective, as Peter Wallet pointed out, attrition is a factor in determining how many teachers a nation or region will need in the future. It also raises questions about where teachers are going when they leave, i.e. are they leaving to teach in another sector, or are they leaving their home country to teach in another nation (transnational migration). Attrition from the field (i.e. teachers leaving to work in another sector) could also potentially serve to shed light on the status of the teaching profession. It would appear that some nations (like Japan or S. Korea) have very low attrition rates while others, like the U.S. are much higher. When teachers leave would also be of interest, especially if linked to gender. It may be that in some countries, female teachers may have higher rates of leaving the field upon marriage or the birth of the first child.
At the state or provincial level within a nation, a similar question would also be useful to policy makers. Some states in the U.S. like Pennsylvania, have the reputation for being “teacher exporters.” Given the intense demand for teachers in STEM subjects, are some states or provinces doing a better job at retaining teachers in these key areas.
Finally, at the local level, teacher turnover appears a strong candidate for development as a school level variable that could have independent effects on learning gains . Whether leaving the field or simply moving to another school, high teacher turnover is likely to affect the morale of remaining teachers and students, as well as disrupting core organizational routines (like cross grade consultation). Teacher effectiveness in schools with high turnover may be substantially decreased. On the other hand, if the teachers that leave are less effective than their peers, the impact may be muted (Boyd et al. 2008).
Boyd, Donald; Grossman, Pamela; Lankford, Hamilton; Loeb, Susanna; Wyckoff, James. 2008 “Who Leaves?” Teacher Attrition and Student Achievement. Working Paper 23. National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. The Urban Institute, 2100 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20037.
Ingersoll, R. (2001). “Teacher Turnover and Teacher Shortages: An Organizational Analysis.” American Educational Research Journal 38(3): 499-534.
Marvell, J. (2007). Teacher Attition and Mobility. Washington DC, US Dept of Education.