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Research Spotlight on Recruiting & Retaining a Highly Qualified, Diverse Teaching Workforce

NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education

Found In: teaching strategies

Over the next decade, schools in the United States will need to hire many new teachers. Four factors will affect the recruitment of these teachers:

  • A shrinking teaching force
  • A growing student population
  • A lack of diversity among teachers to match the diversity of students
  • A need for teachers in specific types of schools, geographic locations, and subject areas

In addition to recruiting new teachers, schools will also need to look at the retention of teachers already in the workforce and understand the reasons teachers leave. Some sources estimate that 50 percent of the teachers currently in our classrooms will either retire or leave the profession over the next five to seven years. The statistics for teacher turnover among new teachers are startling. Some 20 percent of all new hires leave the classroom within three years. In urban districts, the numbers are worse. Close to 50 percent of newcomers leave the profession during their first five years of teaching. See The High Cost of Teacher Turnover (National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 2007)

The problem of a dwindling teacher population will be compounded by the growing student population as well as the movement toward progressively smaller class sizes.

Filling the ranks of teachers also will require recruiting teachers for difficult-to-fill schools, particularly in urban and rural areas. Finding teachers for selected subject areas and for certain geographic regions. And encouraging more minorities to become teachers, as insufficient numbers of them are currently entering the profession.

With 40 percent minority students and 5 percent minority teachers predicted for 2010, a critical shortage of educators and role models who reflect their race and ethnicity may be at hand. This shortage could lead to a failure of all American students to acquire the academic, personal, and social skills they need in a multicultural society.

NEA believes that strong programs of teacher recruitment are necessary to maintain and enhance the teaching profession. These programs should emphasize the recruitment of underrepresented candidates and should include a policy of affirmative recruitment (NEA Handbook, 2008, Resolution D-2).

Resolving the teacher shortage is not strictly a numbers game. Much has been said about the need to bring more young people into the teaching profession, but too little attention has been paid to holding onto the quality teachers already hired -- both beginning teachers as well as more experienced ones.

NEA believes that retaining these teachers in our classrooms requires giving them adequate preparation, support, leadership, and autonomy as well as compensation that reflects their professional stature.

Here are some related articles and research on recruitment and retention:

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