Sep 28, 2011

Paying Teachers More Matters [Or, I Will Cite A Preliminary Source--And I'm Not A Teacher]

Rebecca Sibilia currently serves as the Fiscal Strategy Manger for StudentsFirst, where she is responsible for analyzing the fiscal impact of education policies, and helping policymakers and administrators implement best practices to ensure education spending ultimately drives student outcomes. Prior to her work at StudentsFirst, she served as the Chief Financial Officer for the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education. In prior roles, she created congressionally funded education programs for public schools and vouchers and developed venture philanthropy programs to help low-income students access quality education opportunities.

The National Center for Education Statistics has issued a new report titled "Beginning Teacher Attrition and Mobility". It's the first glimpse into a major longitudinal study of why teachers stay in the profession, and why they leave.

Here's what we've found by tracking new teachers who entered the profession in the 2007-2008 school year, and whether they stayed after their first year of teaching:

What matters: 

Teachers making more than $40,000 were 3.7 times more likely to stay in the profession than those making less.  One out of every eight teachers making under $40,000 a year quits after their first year on the job.  This is why states and districts should elevate the teaching profession by paying teachers a competitive base salary, and rewarding them for results, even in the first year.

First year teachers paired with mentors were almost twice as likely to stay in the profession than those without.  This proves that providing meaningful professional support is a critical factor in keeping new teachers.

What doesn't matter:

Teachers serving low-income students were no more likely to leave the profession as those who served wealthier students.  This tells us that the composition of children in the classroom is not an impediment to job satisfaction for first year teachers.

First year teachers who entered through an alternative certification program were equally as likely to stay in the profession as their counterparts. This tells us that educators who enter the profession after studying in a different field have no less commitment to teaching than their counterparts who entered the profession through traditional routes.

What it means:

Helping teachers succeed, paying teachers competitively and rewarding them for results, no matter where they work and how they came to the profession will keep good teachers in the classroom in their first year of teaching. This is why elevating the teaching profession is a top priority for StudentsFirst.

View the full report here:

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