Will the talented teachers in your district extend their contracts for another year?
The chances are good that your high-talent teachers are on the lookout for other job opportunities. Gallup’s research shows that almost half of teachers (48%) in the U.S. say they are actively looking for a different job now or watching for opportunities. At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, almost every U.S. state had shortages of teachers in major subject areas.
According to the Learning Policy Institute, the economics of the teacher shortage are somewhat clear. The demand for teachers is growing because of stricter requirements on teacher-to-student ratios and increasing student enrollment in public schools. Meanwhile, teacher supply is diminishing because fewer people are enrolling in teacher preparation programs in college and current teachers are leaving the profession.
These market forces and the growing national teacher shortages are challenging district leaders to rethink and focus on their human capital strategies. Some states have turned to drastic measures to fill these educator roles by hiring college graduates without a teacher certification or formal teaching experience.
However, within these dramatic headlines and statistics, variability exists, and some districts are thriving despite these macroeconomic forces. Some districts have candidate-to-hire ratios at 20:1, while others are 2:1 — a coin flip to see which candidate a district will place in the classroom.
Why Teachers Leave
Gallup recently asked teachers to recall the primary reason they left their last job and categorized their responses. We found that 29% of teachers left for personal reasons such as relocation or health reasons.
Of the remaining teachers who left for job-related reasons, 16% were terminated involuntarily and 84% left voluntarily. The reasons employees cited for leaving voluntarily are particularly insightful, as they might reflect more actionable school-level factors.
By a large margin, the primary reason teachers gave for leaving their last job was career advancement or development, with 60% of teachers who left voluntarily citing reasons related to this category.
This percentage shows that many teachers might not have felt challenged in their work or received individualized opportunities to grow and advance, so they left their job. Even though many districts invest heavily in professional development programs, these opportunities might not be individualized to teachers’ specific growth and development needs.
Pay or benefits was the next most cited reason for leaving, with 13% of teachers who left voluntarily mentioning this reason. Low pay, especially early in an educator’s career, could stifle the attractiveness of the profession, especially for individuals carrying large student debt burdens.
Despite a prevailing focus on low teacher pay, teachers actually mentioned their pay as the reason they left their last job at a lower rate compared with other workers. One in four (24%) non-teachers voluntarily left their last job because of pay.
Turnover can cost an organization anywhere from one-half to five times the employee’s salary. The variability in this number is the result of the difficulty in measuring both hard costs, such as advertising and training, as well as some of the unseen costs, such as the impact on team morale and student relationships.