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Research Spotlight on Recruiting & Retaining Highly Qualified Teachers


Recruiting & Retaining a Highly Qualified, Diverse Teaching Workforce



NEA Teacher Quality and Research Departments are providing this online venue highlighting professional research on best practices in educational issues.


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:

» Eight Questions on Teacher Recruitment and Retention: What Does the Research Say? (Education Commission of the States, 2005) - This article focuses on the characteristics of schools and districts that are most likely to be successful in recruiting and retaining a highly qualified and diverse teaching workforce.

» Instructional Leadership and Monitoring: Increasing Teacher Intent To Stay Through Socialization. (National Association of Secondary School Principals: NASSP Bulletin, 2006) - This study examines principal monitoring and beginning teachers' experiences through interviews. The findings indicate that socializing into an ineffective school will lead to ineffective instructional practices, thus setting up new teachers for failure.

» A Possible Dream: Retaining California Teachers So All Students Learn (California State University 2007) - This report contends that unless California understands and addresses the problem of teacher attrition and turnover, thousands of additional students in the coming years will continue to enter classrooms without qualified and experienced teachers to instruct them.        

» Meeting the Challenges of Recruitment and Retention: A Guidebook on Promising Strategies to Recruit and Retain Qualified and Diverse Teachers. National Education Association, 2003.

» Teacher Recruitment and Retention: A Review of the Recent Empirical Literature .  American Educational Research Association, 2006) - This article critically reviews the recent empirical literature on teacher recruitment and retention published in the United States. It examines the characteristics of individuals who enter and remain in the profession.

See other Teaching Research Spotlights.

See other research information at NEA Research.

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