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Better understanding retention, attrition, and mobility of teachers in rural districts and schools has long been a need for education leaders as they continue to struggle with teacher shortages. To address these concerns, members of the Rural Education Research Alliance, including state and local educators, participated in the training “Using Data to Understand Rural Teacher Retention, Mobility, and Attrition.” Stakeholders in all seven REL Central states used the opportunity to better understand research on rural teacher retention, mobility, and attrition, and the methodologies and data sources that can be used to provide information about these issues.

REL Central researchers Stephen Meyer, Emma Espel, and Shelley Billig led the informative discussion, selecting studies that aligned closely with priorities identified by state education agency (SEA) administrators.

“In the REL Central region, there’s a lot of interest—particularly among state education agency stakeholders—to better understand issues related to teacher retention, mobility, and attrition in their states,” said Meyer.

The training focused on prior research that highlighted the need for better information about the nature and extent of teacher retention, mobility, and attrition, as well as the need to conduct localized analysis to guide policy decisions arising from:

  • ongoing concern about teacher shortages, particularly in rural settings;
  • negative consequences of teacher mobility and attrition; and
  • substantial variation in teacher mobility and attrition and contributing factors across regions, states, and districts.

Finally, the training also gave SEA representatives the opportunity to discuss anticipated future priorities. Some of those priorities may include plans to improve data systems, develop regular analysis and reporting protocols, or explore cross-state data sharing to examine teacher mobility across states.

The Rural Education Research Alliance looks forward to possible future research.

“Through this project, we sought to provide research-based information about these issues and stimulate conversation about future collaborative work,” Meyer said. “We are looking forward to next steps.”