Skip Navigation

Teachers who do not teach: Who are they and what would motivate their return to teaching?


Description: In Michigan, public school students' access to effective teachers is hindered by teacher shortages in rural and urban regions of the state and in certain subjects. Yet Michigan's Department of Education (MDE) estimates that approximately 105,000 teacher certificate holders who currently reside in Michigan do not teach. MDE wants to know if it is possible to recruit some of these nonteaching certificate holders to fill vacant teaching positions in the state, and if so, the types of incentives that might encourage their return to the teaching profession. This study will provide MDE with information about the characteristics of nonteaching certificate holders, their reasons for leaving or never entering the teaching profession, and the incentives that could encourage them to enter or reenter the profession.

Research Questions: The proposed study will address three research questions:

  1. What are the demographic and employment characteristics of Michigan residents who hold teacher certificates but are not currently teaching (i.e., nonteaching certificate holders)? What demographic, experience-related, and geographic characteristics distinguish nonteaching certificate holders from certificate holders who teach?
  2. What reasons do certificate holders give for leaving—or choosing not to enter—the teaching profession? Do reasons vary by demographic or experience-related characteristics?
  3. According to nonteaching certificate holders, what incentives would encourage their return to the profession? Does the reported attractiveness of the incentive vary based upon demographic or experience-related characteristics?

Study Design: This is a descriptive study. The study's research questions will be answered using data supplied by MDE and Michigan's Talent Investment Agency. REL Midwest will obtain and analyze teacher certification data, school staffing data, workforce participation data, and nonteaching certificate holders' responses to MDE's survey about their reasons for not teaching and the types of incentives that might encourage them to return to the profession. These data will be tabulated to arrive at the numbers of nonteaching certificate holders having specific characteristics, the numbers of nonteaching certificate holders who identify certain reasons for leaving or never entering the profession, and the numbers of nonteaching certificate holders who endorse specific incentive types.

Projected Release Date: Fall 2020.

Partnership or Research Alliance: Midwest Alliance to Improve Teacher Preparation.

Related Products: What's Happening report.

Principal Investigators & Affiliation:
Jim Lindsay and Natalya Gnedko-Berry, American Institutes for Research