Attention Researchers

Originally published at The Quick and the Ed. 

At Teacher Magazine, Jessica Shyu asks her readers to weigh in on what makes teachers stay.  Good question.  After that, we should figure out what makes them leave.  Then we need to know why people decide to join or not join the profession in the first place.

Of course, we already have plenty of theories, conjectures, and conventional wisdom about these questions.  We do not, however, have nearly enough useful research.  It’s time to stop asking for anecdotes and start asking for data.

For example, which of the following would be more attractive to chemistry majors with at least a 3.2 GPA:  A $3000 raise for teachers or a career ladder program that uses the same money to provide opportunities for advancement and promotion.  I don’t know the answer, but a simple study could tell us.  A more clever study could tell us the approximate dollar value of a career ladder program to any subset of students we’re interested in.  And it could do the same for other policies that affect whether or not people want to teach.   

Researchers have already done surveys and analyzed the labor market, but these inquiries have been limited, and many are now outdated.  With a current and comprehensive study, we could reshape teacher recruitment and retention to improve teacher quality.  JPMorgan and McKinsey have the data.  It’s time for schools to have it too.

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