Teacher Retention In An Era Of Rapid Reform

Matthew Di Carlo:

The Center for American Progress (CAP) recently released a short report on whether teachers were leaving the profession due to reforms implemented during the Obama Administration, as some commentators predicted.
The authors use data from the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), a wonderful national survey of U.S. teachers, and they report that 70 percent of first-year teachers in 2007-08 were still teaching in 2011-12. They claim that this high retention of beginning teachers, along with the fact that most teachers in 2011-12 had five or more years of experience, show that “the teacher retention concerns were unfounded.”
This report raises a couple of important points about the debate over teacher retention during this time of sweeping reform.
First, however, I must point out that, due to an analytical error, the 70 percent retention figure is incorrect. The authors wanted to see how many first year teachers from 2007-08 were still in the profession in 2011-12. What they did was identify fifth-year teachers (in 2011-12), and then looked at these teachers’ responses to another question asking their first year of teaching. 70 percent said it was 2007-08 (five years earlier), and so the CAP report concludes that 30 percent of first year teachers in 2007-08 had left the profession.