Research Findings about Hiring in Education

Posted by Matt Berringer on January 7, 2014

Hiring in EducationWith the holiday season behind us, schools across the country are turning their focus to recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers, aides, and other critical personnel for the coming school year. Recruiting Teachers may be more attracted to certain districts—or certain schools within those districts—for a variety of reasons. While brand new teachers are likely to be less selective about their first teaching job, experienced teachers look closely at specific characteristics, including:

  • Relative affluence of a district
  • Urban, suburban, or rural location
  • School size
  • Diversity
  • Past academic performance
  • Public or private

According to a 2005 study by the University of Pennsylvania, this does not mean any one specific sort of school or student is inherently undesirable for an educator. Rather, candidates consider the whole picture as well as their own skillset. In other words, teachers are looking for the best fit. Not surprisingly, compensation can be a key factor for a teacher trying to decide whether or not to accept a position. Although teacher salaries are generally considered low in comparison to other professions, candidates do consider how a school district’s compensation compares to neighboring districts. Higher compensation alone is not necessarily enough to recruit or retain an educator. Also important is the school’s overall working conditions, including class size, culture and climate, and professional development opportunities. A teacher who works for a lower salary but is happy at work is likely to stay in his or her job rather than accept a higher-paying position in another district. Retaining The numbers are staggering: Some sources estimate that nearly half of all new teachers will leave the classroom in the first five years. Once you’ve got them, you’ve got to work hard to keep them and to keep your own turnover rate at an optimal level. Surveyed educators cite the following factors as important to their overall job satisfaction:

  • Administrative support
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Recognition
  • Administrative help in dealing with behavior issues
  • System to voice concerns or give feedback
  • Induction and mentoring programs

Evaluating It’s a two-way street, though. As vital as it is to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers, administrators must also ensure that individual educators are a good fit for their school. In many districts, administrators are considering how to reward great teaching without putting too much emphasis on what an individual student’s success says about a teacher’s abilities or efforts. States and schools participating in Race to the Top are required to tie teacher effectiveness to their pay. Likewise, even some schools that aren’t participating in the program are choosing to implement a pay incentive program. Whatever method a school or district chooses, whether tied to student performance or more traditional classroom observations, annual teacher evaluations can be beneficial. Teachers tend to improve dramatically in their performance during the first few years in the classroom; after that, their level of effectiveness has been shown to remain fairly stagnant. A yearly look at each teacher’s strengths and weaknesses, along with support and suggestions for improvement, can help ensure all teachers are continuing to learn and grow.

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