Why Do Teachers Leave the Classroom?


When it comes to teacher attrition, we all have our ideas as to why teachers are leaving the classroom. For decades, we guessed it was because salaries were just too low. In recent years, we’ve opined that teachers are leaving education in droves because of high-stakes testing, high-stakes accountability, and most recently, because of the Common Core.

Over at Education Week, Jordan Moeny relays data points from a recent Albert Shanker Institute/American Federation of Teachers panel discussion. The topic of the panel was the lack of qualified staff in high-need schools. The panelists included UPENN researcher Richard Engersoll and Duke researcher Helen Ladd.

What did they relay with regard to why teachers, at least those in high-need schools, are deciding to no longer be teachers?

The top source of teacher dissatisfaction is too little prep time. It is closely followed by “teaching load is too heavy” and “class size is too large.” Poor salary and benefits comes in fourth.

The rest of the list of concerns for teachers at high-need schools include: student behavioral problems, lack of faculty influence, too little parent support, no opportunities for parent advancement, and too little collaboration time.

Imagine that … the top nine things that frustrate teachers in high-need schools the most, and not a mention of the dreaded Common Core. Not a whisper high-stakes testing. Not a glance at the post-NCLB corporate education industrial complex.

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