5 Ways To Improve Teacher Retention

A 2015 National Center of Education Statistics survey on teacher attrition found that about 15% of all teachers leave the profession within five years. A 2015 NPR article states that nearly half of all teachers will leave the school they are currently at, with rates being higher in high-poverty schools. This rate of attrition is troublesome to schools and districts as they spend thousands of dollars per year on teacher on-boarding and training. A report from the Alliance for Excellent Education indicates that teacher attrition costs the United States up to 2.2 billion dollar annually.

Here are five ways to improve teacher retention rates.

  1. Give Teachers a Voice

Great principals hire the right teachers and then get out of the way. Why hire the best a brightest and then tell them what to do? Let’s stop micro-managing teachers. Teachers need to have a seat at the table. They are the ones that need to be leading teams on curriculum choices, instructional approaches, and school procedures as they spend their days working directly with children.

  1. Give New Teachers On-Going Professional Development

Too often, new teachers are given the keys to their classrooms and wished good luck. The on-boarding process of many school districts is virtually non-existent. We spend way too much time during those precious days after teachers are hired and before the school year starts talking at them about district procedures, print shop ordering forms, and how to call in a substitute teacher. They should be spending that time on professional development that matters: instructional practices, intervention systems, data analysis, formative assessment creation … We don’t need to waste time on housekeeping.

  1. Provide Opportunities for Teacher Leadership

Strong teachers need to be encouraged to step into leadership roles. Strong teachers have great ideas on how to improve and move a school forward. It is important to test out new ideas and take risks. This keeps our educational system healthy and innovative. There is nothing worse for new teachers to experience than having their new ideas shunned by a system that is focused on repeating itself rather than innovation.

  1. Bring in Technology

When it comes to technology, it is hard for education to compete with private industry. Upon being hired into the private workforce, employees are issued new laptops, iPhones, tablets and other tools. In many districts, teachers get a ten year old desktop computer, or if they are lucky, a refurbished laptop. We need to do a better job in bring technology into schools and getting it into the hands of teachers. They will be excited about the possibilities that the technology will give them. In turn, their students will also be excited. This will create an atmosphere of innovation, a characteristic that new teachers are looking for in a school / district.

  1. Pay Them A Decent Wage

I put salary on this list because I believe it should be. While research shows that it is not the biggest factor for teachers leaving the profession, I do believe that it is a major consideration. In many metropolitan communities across the country, new teachers can’t afford their own apartment. They are forced to live further out, requiring them to drive long distances to and from work everyday, or have to live with several roommates. Teachers should make enough money to live in the communities they work in. It is hard to convince someone to stay in the profession when they are priced out of the housing market.

Articles Referenced:



Dr. David Franklin is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions. 

Published by David Franklin

Dr. David Franklin is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions.

12 thoughts on “5 Ways To Improve Teacher Retention

  1. Agree with your steps; however, I believe that at different stages of development, teachers might require different approaches, including direction to determine when a teacher has reached a point where a decision must be made by the teacher about whether to continue, or to seek alternate employment. Sometimes teachers wait too long to evaluate their situations and this leads to problems, especially lack of interest.

    Consequently, I developed a Three Level System for Teacher development, that was considered by the College authority, responsible for the decision, to be ahead of its time, and I received several queries both from the institution where I was teaching and other colleges and universities. My proposed system is broken into three phases: “Probationary”, “Maturing” and “Mature”. The system recognizes that training and development are sides of the same coin with Evaluation being the edge that makes the coin complete. At the Probationary stage, Principals and others in authority would contribute to the choices being made by the teacher (professor); in the Maturing stage, the responsibility is passed on to the teacher (professor) but is approved by the Supervisor or Principal, and in the Mature stage discussions with the teacher/professor/and Supervisor or Principal, where continued employment and even possible change of employment would be discussed. {The system could be applied to Supervisors and other areas of employment}.

    I am presently down-sizing at home, but I will post a summary of the system on Linked In soon.


  2. Lesson Plans do not teach. They are really plans for distributing the required course material over the time allowed for the course during the term or semester. I prefer the Concept Mapping process for organizing course preparations, that presents the entire grouping of all the material to be presented in the form of a family tree, that links similarly related parts of the presentation. Along with doing this, the teacher must also ask, and answer, the question: “How will I know that the material has been successfully mastered. The answers to this question determines what must be taught at the level to which it is being presented. All of this also require plans for teacher development, that is the most important aspect of a successful teaching career. My initial paper on teacher development that led to my 3-Level Human Resource Development System can be accessed in the Library of Congress records – reference: TXu00572476/1993-06-01.

    As an aside, while teaching, I learned that the most stressful jobs were: 1. Waitress; 2. Dentist, and 3. Teacher.


  3. The UK statistic is 33% leaving the profession within 5 years, although the government says this is not a problem! Compare this, though, with a 40% turnover of graduates recruited within corporations like Proctor & Gamble Ltd. and in the same sort of timeframe.But since the issue in education is one of stability for young minds, so that they can thrive, and since teachers don’t simply move to another ‘corporation’ in which to teach, any high turnover in fully qualified teaching staff is not acceptable..


  4. Building relationships, respect and trusting that the seasoned teachers know their craft and allowing us to do what we have to do to teach our students without implications is key to retaining us. Who wants to work anywhere that makes us feel we’re walking on egg shells!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a fine piece but I would add let young teachers get established. From observations and experiences it feels as though young teachers become the go-to for projects and activities when they should be focused on just staying afloat and diving into their content. I have nothing wrong with young teachers becoming involved with their schools but I truly feel like piling on roles takes away from their main goal of teaching. Yes, it will mean a little more work from veteran staff to pick up the slack but that is little price to pay in the long run. Young teachers will feel supported, be able to be reflective new teachers, and generally be able to grow faster than those who take on or assigned too much early on in their careers.


    1. I think this is super important. I took a job about 10 years ago and I replaced an NQT who had left after a term. I had been a teacher for a while too, but I found the load. All the younger classes, high need children and classes of students who struggled and resented being there. Not one class which I could walk into and feel successful. I had had years feeling competent and still felt very burnt out at the end of the year. I have had heads who are aware of this and gave those of us who had experience ONE or TWO difficult classes, not all of them. Not all of them to one person who was just finding her feet. I don’t know who the NQT was but I hope she found somewhere where she was treated with compassion. I think that kind of loading is a form of abuse, especially when senior teachers give themselves all the easier classes.


  6. A good read thanks for sharing – teachers leave for all sorts of reasons but in the high poverty schools where retention is hardest I think there are some that leave because they feel unsupported in managing the emotional and behavioural challenges of the vulnerable children.


  7. In the UK the figure is a lot higher than 15% as it is closer to 40% within the first two years of qualifying, also the older you get the more difficult it is to find proper teaching contracts with a reasonable number of teaching hours. Rates of pay are not set either as they vary drastically from upwards of £11 per hour to £27 per hour. But if you are offered a job at £27 per hour you will only be given 6 – 8 hours of work and on top of that the higher the rate of pay, employers state that planning, prep and administration time has been included in that rate. Even on the lower rate of pay you might get full time hours of say 35 hours a week but then the post only runs for 6 weeks and because 6 weeks is seen as a long time you might still be expected to do all the other tasks teachers complete to offer professional tuition in 1-2-1 or classroom situations.

    Those lucky enough to land secure employment will find that they are offered a term time only contract regarding pay, but it may be divided out over 13 months, so that they have a monthly salary. In the meantime, the world sees teachers as being well paid when in reality they could be on the breadline.

    I am still looking for teaching work after having taken just over a year to complete two specialisms TEFL and Mastery in Mathematics, the latter course a past colleague and I completed together but sadly she has now accepted that her teaching days are done, as she has just accepted a minimum wage post in a call centre. My friend also tells me that she has for work colleagues three teachers who could not find regular teaching work so have given up the profession.

    It is my personal belief that to stop good teachers leaving the profession, they should be guaranteed teaching jobs for a minimum of 5 years after qualifying and then for the next 5 years given opportunities to mentor and lead. If this were to happen fewer teachers would leave the profession on grounds of no motivation, fulfilment or lack of appropriately paid work.

    I am absolutely frustrated by the lack of teaching work and it is not for want of trying. I am registered with a dozen or more agencies but they never have anything for me, I spend 40 hours a week in job search, I apply for all manner of teaching work and still there is nothing . I have had lots of promises, but no offers yet. I am also 55 and I feel that my age group is the least visible one in the classroom as younger teachers get the best posts.

    The knock on effect of all this is on the learners of course, is these new up and coming teachers are the ones that will probably leave the job, for something else. So after 4 or 5 teachers per subject educationalists wonder why the young are demotivated and why some do not achieve?


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