Education, News

Why Teachers Quit Teaching

Every year, qualified and experienced teachers leave the profession. Admittedly, certain circumstances make a certain percentage of teacher turnover unforeseen if not inevitable. Yet, as the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) notes, increasing rates of turnover are an issue. Education systems need to be aware of any increased rates in their region for two related reasons. When teachers quit, it disrupts the continuity of a program. It also indicates specific problems in the schools falling under their jurisdiction.

Common Reasons Why Teachers Quit

Teachers quit for a variety of reasons. According to the various statistics and commentary, the rationale behind quitting is both personal and related to the education system. In some instances, schools within a certain state or region or even city, have a higher rate of teacher turnover than others. Schools with a higher degree of poverty also have a higher turnover rate than those who do not.

Across the United States, 3 most common reasons (NCES statistics) for teachers to quit teaching are:Teacher and students

• Retirement
• To pursue a new career
• Better salary or benefits

The statistics also reflect a gender difference. More males than females leave to pursue another career while more women than men retire. New teachers, however, may leave because they are unable to get that first job opportunity, discover they just are not suited for a career in teaching or cannot stand the administrative heat.

Another popular reason cited for quitting by teachers is the overwhelming bureaucratic monster they must deal with daily. This administrative structure is more concerned with the paperwork of education than the needs and realities of day-to-day classroom relationships. This includes the best way for teachers and student to interact; the best ways for students to learn and enjoy the process.

How to Stop the High Teacher Turnover

Salaries and benefits vary from state-to-state and differ between the public and private schools. Overall, however, salaries and benefits for teachers lag far behind those of other professionals working in the private sector. Increasing the salary to be close to other comparable professionals is a start. In 2008, a Utah government paper suggested increasing salaries on a differential basis to attract and keep teachers. An education paper in California addressed the administrative gap. It suggested principals and policies focus more on teachers and the need for a better learning and teaching environment. Both approaches depend upon the circumstances surrounding each state’s education system and its funding.


Every year too many qualified teachers leave the system. While a certain amount of attrition is natural, statistics seem to indicate a growing trend. State and national government officials and experts need to find an effective means to address the problem. They must do so to satisfy the needs of teachers and students, alike.


Photo credit: iStockPhoto/skynesher

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Mary Brown

Mary Brown

Mary Brown has enjoyed writing about education and finance related topics, such as scholarships, student loans, college, vocational degree choices, and adult education since the early 2000's. She also writes about school budgets, accreditation and fundraising.