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Focusing on retention to build an effective and stable teaching workforce

Focusing on retention to build an effective and stable teaching workforce

By Marguerite Huber
May 20, 2019

Research shows that teacher quality plays a key role in student achievement. Consequently, states across the nation have made it a priority to provide all students with equitable access to effective teachers. In Michigan, however, ongoing teacher shortages pose a major hurdle to achieving this aim.

To help tackle the issue, our Midwest Alliance to Improve Teacher Preparation (MAITP) is focusing its work in 2019 on improving teacher retention in Michigan, particularly among new teachers. MAITP brings together Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest researchers with representatives from the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), Michigan districts, and other partners. The goal is to improve Michigan’s teacher preparation pipeline—from preservice training, to entry into the profession, to the early years of teaching.

Three stages of teacher preparation

Stages of teacher preparation: 1. Preservice training, 2. Entry into profession, 3. Early years of teaching

Leah Breen, MDE’s director of the Office of Educator Excellence and a REL Midwest board member, acknowledged that “in Michigan, data indicate that new teacher retention is lower than the national average. Not only does the Midwest Alliance to Improve Teacher Preparation need to focus on preparation strategies that will result in more skilled professionals, but we need to focus on strategies that better prepare and retain our teachers for the challenges driving them out of the profession in the first 3 to 5 years.”

MAITP research liaison, Natalya Gnedko-Berry of REL Midwest, added, “The foundation of teachers’ education is developed in preservice training, but a new teacher’s professional growth continues through the early years of teaching. The training and support teachers receive early on can often determine if they remain teaching.”

In 2019 and beyond, MAITP will work on three new projects focused on teacher retention:

  • A coaching project will support MDE in developing a needs-assessment tool for Michigan districts to take stock of existing teacher recruitment and retention programs, policies, and supports. In addition, the project will assist MDE in developing a companion survey to gather early career teachers’ perspectives on the use and usefulness of existing offerings.
  • An applied research study will examine the relationship between teacher retention and Michigan districts’ existing programs, policies, and supports.
  • A public television documentary will explore strategies for teacher retention in rural areas. The partnership elevated the need for this knowledge because one in four schools in Michigan is classified as rural, and retaining teachers in these areas can be particularly challenging.

For all three projects, the overarching goal is to provide Michigan districts with data to inform decisions as to which local programs, policies, and supports for teacher recruitment and retention warrant continued investment. Once districts align their local offerings with their specific needs, they will be better positioned to develop an effective and stable teaching workforce.

To learn more about the partnership and its work, visit our MAITP page. To learn more about our study on Michigan teacher shortages and surpluses, see our previous blog post.

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Author(s) Information

Marguerite Huber Staff Picture

Marguerite Huber

Communications Associate | REL Midwest


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Discipline (4)

Early Childhood (31)

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English Learners (10)

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Teacher Preparation (24)

Teacher Recruitment (2)

Teacher Retention (2)

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