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Exodus: A Study of Teacher Retention in America

Retaining teachers is one of the top educational challenges in the United States. In order to better understand the retention and attrition phenomenon, this qualitative study explores the views and opinions of current and former teachers.

Both current and former teachers say their love for children and their respect for the art and science of teaching are the most important reasons for entering the profession. However, they feel that teaching is becoming increasingly more complex and suggest there are many disciplines that individuals must master and perform routinely to be an effective teacher. While the challenges for current and former teachers are very similar, current teachers seem to have a better support structure in their administration and more outlets for their frustrations.

Teachers who have left the profession suggest that having an effective mentoring program would have helped them cope with the strains of teaching and to develop more proactive ways to combat their frustrations. Respondents reacted very favorably to the notion of peer support from retired teachers and think that any type of formal recognition and mentoring programs would be helpful.

The online survey was conducted by HarrisInteractive in July and August of 2003. A total of 117 respondents participated in bulletin board focus groups and 14 of these respondents further participated in in-depth telephone interviews. The study involved both private and public school teachers in grades K-12. (27 pages)