A Closer Look

Teachers – What they do when they leave teaching

There’s a chart taken from data from the “Teacher Follow-up Survey” (TFS) of the School and Staffing Survey, which is administered to school teachers nationwide every four years by the U.S. Department of Education.

We see in the chart that about 16 percent of teachers exited a school in recent years, combining both exits represented here. Roughly half of that 16 percent move to another school. (Some of these “movers” end up in a different school in the same district.) This fraction of teachers switching schools hasn’t changed much over time.

If that eight percent represented equal-sized back-and-forth trades between districts, it might not be of great concern. I suspect, however, that some districts regularly lose more than their share of experienced teachers while others (wealthier? “easier” to teach students) are net gainers. (Boyd, et. al. wrote “…schools with better working conditions and higher salaries bid away the better qualified teachers from difficult-to-staff schools.”

The other eight percent leave teaching. The fraction of teachers leaving the profession entirely has noticeably risen. Unless one thinks that we’ve seen a major increase in the tendency of weak teachers to move onward—and I can’t imagine that such a major increase is likely—then this trend is a matter of some concern.

TFS also offers us some information about what teachers who left teaching did next, as shown in the next chart.

Basically, two-thirds of leavers either take a non-teaching job in K-12 or move into retirement. Neither of these “destinations” raises a concern about teachers finding more attractive careers on the outside. (Although there probably is something wrong when the only way a master teacher can get a significant raise while staying in education is to quit teaching.) Another nine percent leave to care for a family member and a small number go back to school—also probably not of great concern.

We’re left with a relatively small number of teachers who leave education for alternative work.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at  What do teachers do when they leave teaching? | Brookings Institution

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