Recruitment, Retention and the Minority Teacher Shortage

This report by UPenn professors Richard Ingersoll and Henry May
answers a touchy question in education reform: What causes the
minority-teacher shortage? To this end, the authors compile data from
all six cycles of the NCES Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and its
supplemental Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) (running from 1987-88 to
2007-08)—though they focus on the 2003-04 SASS and 2004-05 TFA. They
find that the minority-teacher shortage does not arise from poor
recruitment: Over the past two decades, the white teaching force has
increased by 41 percent while the minority teaching force increased by
96 percent. (Interestingly, both the male and female minority teaching
forces mushroomed in this manner.) Rather, our dearth of minority
teachers comes from low rates of retention: For four of the six SASS
cycles, minority-teacher turnover rates were significantly higher than
those for white teachers. And this gap has widened in recent years. And
don’t blame poverty rates for the turnovers. While minority teachers are
more likely to work in low-income urban schools, neither factor
(poverty rate or urban status) affected their mobility. Instead,
Ingersoll and May find that minority educators in schools with the worst
organizational conditions (lack of classroom autonomy, ineffectual
administrations, and undisciplined students) were almost twice as likely
to exit the profession as those in schools with the best organizational
conditions. (Though white-teacher turnover was also influenced by these
conditions, the affect was much less severe.) Can’t blame them.

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Recruitment, Retention and the Minority Teacher Shortage,”
by Richard Ingersoll and Henry May, Consortium for Policy Research in
Education, September 2011.

Michael Ishimoto is a Research Intern at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute