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Report: Teachers in U.S. staying in the job longer

LA School Report | January 23, 2014

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Center for American Progress logoVia The Center for American Progress

Five years ago, U.S. teachers were asked in a survey how many years of experience they had; their most common answer was one year. Policymakers feared an impending crisis because, if past trends held, about half of these teachers would leave in their first five years.

But the latest results from the Schools and Staffing Survey, or SASS—a nationally representative study of teachers by the U.S. Department of Education released just weeks ago—show that 70 percent of teachers in their first year stayed in the profession. In the new SASS, most teachers said that they had taught for five years. These new survey results reveal that the teacher retention concerns were unfounded. Since most new teachers stayed in the profession, it’s time to turn attention to these mid-career teachers to ensure policies support their professional growth.

One could imagine all sorts of potential reasons why these novice teachers stayed in the profession. The economy was deeply uncertain during this time period. The Great Recession started in 2009, and the resulting financial uncertainly may have kept more teachers in the teaching profession. The latest survey evidence suggests that this dynamic may have largely not played out: About the same proportion of teachers agreed—before and after 2009—with the statement that “If I could get a higher paying job, I’d leave teaching as soon as possible.” With many experienced teachers retiring over the past few years, these beginning teachers may have stayed longer because they expected more opportunities to take on more professional responsibilities.

Read the full report here.

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