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Educator Recruitment and Retention Evidence Blast

April 29, 2019

Our Evidence Blast series provides evidence-based research, data, and resources to help practitioners and policymakers make important decisions about schools and students.

Many Northwest districts and schools, especially in remote and rural areas, struggle to recruit, train, and retain high-quality educators. Several districts and schools in the region are also trying to recruit teachers who reflect the diversity of their student population.

Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) partnerships in all five Northwest states are using data and research evidence to address the teacher shortage and increase educator diversity. Efforts in Pasco, Washington to attract and keep an effective teaching force are examples of how one district is addressing this high-priority regional issue.

For this Evidence Blast, we searched the literature for recent, publicly available studies on teacher recruitment, training, and retention, with special attention to research conducted in rural areas.

Rural-specific Resources

Perspectives of Potential and Current Teachers for Rural Teacher Recruitment and Retention (2018) [PDF]
South Carolina, a predominately rural state, suffers from severe teacher shortages. Unfortunately, the state’s struggles are not anomalous. Rather, they are emblematic of a larger problem: teacher recruitment and retention challenges in rural areas. To provide insight on what would attract and retain teachers in rural areas, this report examines the perceptions of potential teachers and incorporates the voices of current teachers working in hard-to-staff areas of the state.

The Unintended Consequences of Cohorts: How Social Relationships Can Influence the Retention of Rural Teachers Recruited by Cohort-Based Alternative Pathway Programs (2018) [PDF]
To understand the social experiences of rural teachers recruited by cohort-based alternative pathway programs in the United States, the author interviewed 17 rural teachers recruited by Teach For America (TFA). Although many new rural teachers experience social isolation early in their careers when teaching in communities in which they did not grow up, these rural TFA teachers experienced very little social isolation. Instead, they were embedded in insulated but dense social networks primarily composed of other TFA teachers.

The Role of Place: Labor Market Dynamics in Rural and Non-rural School Districts (2017)
This study examines the pool of applicants vying for teaching vacancies in 311 Wisconsin districts to determine how applicants differ across geographic categories. Although no evidence was found to support claims of a rural teacher shortage, applicants did appear to be averse to rural contexts. Some factors, such as enrollment in particular universities and rural student teaching experiences, increased applicants’ interest in rural vacancies.

Indicators of Successful Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Oklahoma Rural School Districts (2017)
This report examines 10 years of data to identify teacher, district, and community characteristics associated with successful teacher recruitment and retention in Oklahoma's rural districts, which are facing a historic teacher shortage. The evidence provided by this study can be used to inform strategies to help retain certain groups of teachers and increase retention rates overall.

Idaho's Educator Landscape: How Is the State's Teacher Workforce Responding to Its Students' Needs? (2018)
Understanding how and where Idaho's teacher workforce has changed relative to the size and characteristics of its student population can inform state and local efforts to support teacher recruitment, development, and retention. This REL Northwest study describes statewide data from 2011/12 to 2016/17 on changes in student enrollment and demographics, teacher preparation, the composition of the teacher workforce, and teacher turnover.

Additional Reports and Resources on Teacher Retention and Recruitment

Identifying Evidence-Based Practices for Recruiting, Training, and Retaining a Diverse Educator Workforce (2018)
For schools that seek to create a positive, welcoming culture for all students and staff members, it is essential to have an educator workforce that reflects the diversity of the students and communities they serve. REL Northwest recently produced this set of meeting materials that offers evidence-based practices for increasing diversity across the staffing continuum, from recruitment to hiring, onboarding, and retention.

Teacher Evaluation Reforms and the Supply and Quality of New Teachers (2018)
In recent years, states have sought to increase accountability for public school teachers by implementing high-stakes evaluation systems. This working paper examines the effect on the supply and quality of new teachers. Leveraging variation across states and time, the authors find that evaluation reforms reduced the supply of new teaching candidates by 17 percent and increased the likelihood of unfilled teaching positions, particularly in hard-to-staff schools.

Diversifying the Field: Barriers to Recruiting and Retaining Teachers of Color and How to Overcome Them (2017) [PDF]
Recruiting and retaining a diverse teacher workforce that includes teachers of color is crucial as teachers of color bring distinctive experiences and perspectives that support the learning of all students. This paper examines the state of teachers of color in the workforce; the factors that affect the recruitment, hiring, and retention of teachers of color; and opportunities for growing a stable workforce of teachers of color.

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