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Retention, attrition, and mobility among teachers and administrators in West Virginia


Due to increasing evidence that high rates of teacher and administrator turnover adversely affect student academic outcomes, stakeholders in West Virginia were interested in learning more about retention, mobility, and attrition rates in their public school districts. The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia partnered with the West Virginia School Leadership Research Alliance to conduct a descriptive study examining the average rates of retention, attrition, and mobility for teachers and administrators in West Virginia public school districts for the academic years 2008/09–2012/13. The findings describe the average rates in these three areas for teachers and administrators across all West Virginia public school districts, as well as how these rates varied by personnel and district characteristics. On average, about 90 percent of both teachers and administrators stayed in the same West Virginia public school district from one year to the next. Retention rates were lower for teachers and administrators with fewer than 4 or more than 15 years of experience, for those with doctoral degrees, and for those earning the highest salaries. Average rates of retention, mobility, and attrition varied by school district, but rates for administrators varied more than for teachers. Both teacher and administrator attrition rates were higher in districts with greater percentages of students who were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Administrator attrition rates were higher in rural and town districts, in districts with enrollments between approximately 2,000–4,000 students, in districts with lower percentages of racial/ethnic minority students, and in districts serving fewer limited English proficient students. Average mobility rates were less than 3 percent for teachers and less than 6 percent for administrators, suggesting that teachers and administrators are leaving the system rather than moving to different West Virginia school districts. Attrition rates were highest for beginning teachers—those who were initially employed in the West Virginia public school system during one of the academic years examined (2008/09–2012/13). About a fifth of beginning teachers left after their first year of teaching, and nearly a third had left by the end of their fourth year. These findings contribute to the sparse literature on teacher and administrator retention, attrition, and mobility in West Virginia, indicating that the workforce is largely stable. This study also provides information that can be used to inform state and district policy initiatives that aim to improve teacher and administrator retention in school districts serving specific student populations, such as those with the highest proportions of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. At the state level, the information could be used to inform the development of policies aimed at improving retention of beginning teachers.

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Publication Date:
August 2016