Deciding to leave any job can be hard, but for teachers, exiting the classroom can be downright heartbreaking.
Teaching is, in its essence, about relationships—understanding students’ needs, fostering their passions, figuring out what makes them tick. To give up that work, for many, would be a deep loss.
And yet about 8 percent of teachers leave the profession every year, federal data have long shown. Younger teachers, and those early in their careers, are among the most likely to leave teaching. And while trends in turnover do vary regionally, special education teachers and science and math teachers tend to be at high risk for turnover.
All of that was true before the coronavirus pandemic began last year. How the fallout from COVID-19—the unparalleled physical, financial, and emotional stressors, and the upending of what work looks like—ultimately affects those statistics on a national scale won’t be clear for some time.
To understand more about why teachers consider leaving—or actually do make the jump—and the impact of the pandemic on their decisionmaking, the EdWeek Research Center surveyed about 700 teachers and 300 school leaders online in March 2021. The nationally representative results provide a backbone for this series of stories, which are meant both to illuminate the barriers to keeping great teachers and offer some solutions.
Here’s some of what the data tell us:
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