Hiring and Retention
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in March 2022, slightly edging out the previous record high set in November 2021. Pew Research notes that workers across the country are seeking higher pay, more flexibility, and a better work-life balance. This post-COVID phenomenon known as the Great Resignation has hit every sector of the labor market, and the world of education is not immune.
The National Education Association (NEA) recently released survey data indicating that 55% of its membership is thinking about leaving the profession. That’s an 18% jump since the start of this school year alone. The numbers are even higher for Black and Hispanic/Latino teachers as 62% and 59%, respectively, are considering a career change. It may be several months, even several years, before the full impact of the pandemic on teacher attrition rates is fully realized. While the numbers indicate that schools and districts may see more open positions than usual, teacher attrition rates have been high for more than a decade. Pre-pandemic, 8% of teachers left the profession each year—the majority of them leaving before retirement. Teacher attrition isn’t distributed equally among schools. The Learning Policy Institute notes, “Teachers in high-poverty and high-minority schools tend to have higher rates of attrition, as do teachers of color, who are disproportionately represented in these schools.”
In a field with statistically high attrition rates, the prospect of losing even more teachers as part of the Great Resignation is daunting. Gone are the days of sifting through dozens of résumés when trying to fill an open position. NEA reports that there 0.59 hires for every job opening. To compound the problem, the Center for American Progress data indicates that there was a 35% decline in enrollments in teacher education programs between 2010 and 2018 and a decline in completion of teacher preparation programs in almost every state. Additionally, private sector employers are quick to capitalize on a pandemic-weary teacher pool, actively recruiting teachers for their ability to learn quickly, train others, manage stress, and multitask (Dill, 2022).
Addressing teacher shortages is a systemic issue that will require a united effort at the federal, state, and local levels. Policy leaders recommend strategies such as:
- Increasing pay and compensation packages
- Working with colleges and universities to strengthen teacher preparation programs
- Providing for paid internships
- Establishing incentives for teachers working in hard-to-staff schools, locations, or content areas
- Investing in grow-your-own programs, especially for high-need positions such as special education, math, science, and ESL
- Creating robust early-service teacher induction and mentor programs
- Decreasing teacher workloads
- Increasing time for planning and collaboration
- Developing strong administrator training programs
This policy-level work is already beginning. States such as Alabama and New Mexico are significantly increasing salaries for teachers for the 2022–2023 school year. California allocated more than $1 billion to help hire educators in high-need positions, and the Golden State Teacher Grant Program offers scholarships and residency stipends to candidates in teacher preparation programs. Rhode Island and Texas have expanded their return-to-work programs allowing teachers to return to the classroom without penalty to their retirement income.
As legislatures, universities, and state education departments work to impact the staffing crisis at a macro level, school and district leaders are tasked with the immediate challenge of hiring for the upcoming school year. Below are some resources that may help leaders navigate their next steps in hiring, training, and retaining teachers and other school staff.
- TNTP Teacher Talent Toolbox. Resources include practical short-term and long-term plans for recruitment, staffing, and retention. Hiring leaders will find tools for virtual recruiting and virtual demo lessons, tips on avoiding bias during interviews, ideas to rethink instructional delivery models, sample interview questions, tools to estimate your hiring needs, and suggested timelines for the hiring process and more.
- National Council on Teacher Quality has developed a variety of resources that address a school or district’s immediate staffing needs. Articles include topics such as ensuring strong and stable substitute pools, applicant screening, preparing teachers for the first day of school, developing student teachers as a recruitment strategy, processes for voluntary and involuntary transfers, and prioritizing equity.
- Center on Great Teachers & Leaders at the American Institutes for Research has created several toolkits to support school and district leaders.
- The Mentoring & Induction Toolkit 2.0 includes videos, PowerPoint presentations, handouts, and workbooks identifying research-based strategies and best practices in mentoring and teacher induction programs.
- The Educator Shortages in Special Education Toolkit includes strategies to “attract, prepare, and retain effective special education teachers.”
- Insights for Diversifying the Educator Workforce: A Data Tool for Practitioners helps schools, districts, and states “identify and visualize diversity gaps across the entire career continuum, from future teachers graduating from high-school and entering preparation programs, to preservice teachers entering the educator workforce, and growing and developing into experienced classroom instructors.”
Carver-Thomas, D., Burns, D., Leung, M., & Ondrasek, N. (2022, January 26). Teacher shortages during the pandemic: How California districts are responding. Learning Policy Institute. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/california-teacher-shortages-response-report
Center on Great Teachers & Leaders. (n.d.). Educator shortages in special education toolkit for developing local strategies. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://gtlcenter.org/technical-assistance/toolkits/educator-shortages-special-education
Center on Great Teachers & Leaders. (n.d.). Evidence-based strategy toolkit for state and district equitable access planning. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://gtlcenter.org/technical-assistance/toolkits
Center on Great Teachers & Leaders. (n.d.). Insights on diversity in the educator workforce: A data tool for practitioners. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://gtlcenter.org/technical-assistance/insights-diversifying-educator-workforce
Center on Great Teachers & Leaders. (n.d.). Mentoring and induction toolkit 2.0. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://gtlcenter.org/technical-assistance/toolkits/mi-toolkit
Dill, K. (2022, February 2). Teachers are quitting, and companies are hot to hire them. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/teachers-are-quitting-and-companies-are-hot-to-hire-them-11643634181
Eastern New Mexico News. (2022, March 4). NM teachers may get raises as soon as April. Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.abqjournal.com/2475953/nm-teachers-may-get-raises-as-soon-as-april-ex-education-secretary-d.html
Governor’s Office, State of Rhode Island. (2021, September 8). Increasing teaching and administrative staff capacity. Executive Order 21-96. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://governor.ri.gov/executive-orders/executive-order-21-96
National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). (n.d.). Teacher hiring and assignment. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.nctq.org/policy-area/Hiring-and-Assignment
Parker, K., & Horowitz, J. M. (2022, March 10). Majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 cite low pay, no opportunities for advancement, feeling disrespected. Pew Research Center. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/03/09/majority-of-workers-who-quit-a-job-in-2021-cite-low-pay-no-opportunities-for-advancement-feeling-disrespected/#:~:text=The%20nation’s%20%E2%80%9Cquit%20rate%E2%80%9D%20reached,quit%20their%20jobs%20last%20year
Partelow, L. (2019, December 3). What to make of declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs. Center for American Progress. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.americanprogress.org/article/make-declining-enrollment-teacher-preparation-programs/
Powell Crain, T. (2022, April 13). Alabama lawmakers passed teacher, substitute pay raises: What’s next? Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.al.com/educationlab/2022/04/alabama-lawmakers-passed-teacher-substitute-pay-raises-certification-updates-whats-next.html
Sutcher, L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Carver-Thomas, D. (2016). A coming crisis in teaching? Teacher supply, demand, and shortages in the U.S. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute. doi:10.543300/247.242
TCTA. (n.d.). Retire/rehire. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.tcta.org/professional-resources/teacher-employment/benefits/trs-retirement/retire-rehire
TNTP. (n.d.). Teacher talent toolbox overview. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://tntp.org/teacher-talent-toolbox/
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, May 3). Job openings and labor turnover—March 2022. (2022, May 3). Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/jolts.pdf
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2002, January 4). Job openings and labor turnover— November 2021. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/jolts_01042022.pdf
Walker, T. (2022, February 1). Survey: Alarming number of educators may soon leave the profession. NEA News. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/survey-alarming-number-educators-may-soon-leave-profession