NCES Report: Most New Teachers Stay in the Classroom

A new study out of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) helps debunk the oft-repeated assumption that half of new teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years. Overall, some 77% of participants in the Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study continued teaching for 5 straight years, and the rate was even higher (80%) for those who had a mentor or participated in an induction program—just two of the many influences on teachers’ career paths studied for the report.

Career Paths of Beginning Public School Teachers first scrutinizes both broad and detailed career paths of 155,600 teachers who began their classroom career in the 2007-08 academic year. Then it looks at a subset of 1,440 teachers’ characteristics in their first and in their final year of teaching, covering personal demographics, student and school factors, and professional preparation and in-school supports.

The study finds little correlation between teacher retention and personal demographics, preparation pathway or degree, or even student and school factors such as poverty rate or grades taught. For example, teachers in a school with more than 50% of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch were just 5% less likely to continue teaching than those in schools with higher socioeconomic student populations.

Instead, the most influential factors appear to be in-school supports, specifically participating in induction programs, having a mentor, and earning more than $40,000 annually. Eighty percent of those who were assigned a mentor during their first year in the classroom continued to teach all 5 years, compared with 64% of those who did not. Similarly, 80% of teachers who participated in an induction program taught all 5 years, compared with 69% of those who did not. Those who earned less than $40,000 were 17% less likely to continue teaching than their counterparts who earned more.

To read the study in its entirety, click here.

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Guneev Sharma

AACTE Media Relations Intern