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Supporting Teachers to Improve Retention

Teaching is not an easy job, and it takes a special kind of person to do it. Unfortunately, some beginning teachers feel isolated and unsupported, which can adversely affect their performance and job satisfaction. Teachers who feel supported early into their careers stay in their positions longer. Teacher retention rates are important to the overall success of a school system. While this seems logical, many teachers still do not get proper support from their districts, and the effect of teacher turnover on students over time is alarming. To combat this problem, some states require specific support structures, but others leave the issue to the districts. Examining issues like turnover is a great way to improve education, so how can school systems keep teachers from leaving?

Effect on Students

While some teacher turnover is normal, a high degree of turnover can have a very real effect on student success. Researchers examined data over eight years in New York City and discovered a correlation between teacher turnover and math achievement. Despite the age or size of the school in question, the effect was more severe in schools with high numbers of low-achieving students. This suggests that students could benefit from teachers who stay where they are hired. For schools looking to improve their student outcomes, solving the turnover problem might be a step in the right direction. For administrators – or those seeking an online master's degree in teacher leadership – issues like this are especially concerning.

Possible Solutions

Many states require teachers to participate in a mentor program when they begin their careers. Having experienced teachers to lean on improves the likelihood that new teachers will continue teaching, but retaining teachers in the same position may require more effort. Young teachers must often continue their education for licensure reasons, meaning a district willing to help subsidize an online master's degree in education may be more likely to retain talented teachers. Creating solutions that incentivize teacher retention while offering a strong support system may be the best solution for improving the performance of the entire school system.

Schools are ranked by their ability to create positive student outcomes, generally measured by testing student performance. By looking at systemic problems in the school system, such as teacher turnover, administrators can begin addressing the larger issues that are affecting student performance. Researchers discovered that teacher retention rates correlate to multiple outcomes. One of the most notable examples occurred when teacher turnover increased by one standard deviation, which correlated to a two-percent decrease in math scores. Compounded with other factors, this leads to a low-performing school. Teachers who feel supported by their school systems are more likely to continue teaching, and those who work with a mentor are more likely to remain in their positions. Paired with Incentives such as tuition reimbursement, programs like these may help administrators solve the problem of teacher retention once and for all.

Learn about the Columbus State online M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership program.


Keeping New Teachers In, Bringing Back Those Who Leave. (n.d.).

Teacher Turnover Affects All Students’ Achievement, Study Indicates. (n.d.).

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