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TNLI: Action Research: Professional Development: Are there times in which teachers are more susceptible to leaving their profession?

Research Summary

This study utilized data collected from a sample survey distributed across three counties in Delaware, determining if there were particular time frames when teachers were most likely to consider leaving the educational profession.

It also attempted to determine patterns of teacher reasoning and behaviors that may contribute to retention problems. Eighty-four teachers with one to fifteen years of classroom experience were asked various questions concerning experiences in the “trenches” of their own classrooms.

While 55% of teachers were found to be content with their teaching experience, as many as 45% of the eighty-four teachers surveyed admitted to a period of time when they contemplated leaving their profession.

It was discovered that the majority of the teachers who contemplated movement had been in their careers from three to five years. With the national teacher retention rate only as high as 50% within the first five years, this was no surprise. Interestingly enough, however, the pattern continued and spiked at six years, with a gradual decline at eight years. Another spike repeated at fifteen years.

What are the reasons behind these teachers’ departures? Before distributing the survey, I surmised that pay would be one of the most important reasons for leaving. However, this was not the case. When individual teachers were asked the reasons why they were experiencing job dissatisfaction, there were surprising similarities in answers.

First was lack of parental interaction, interest, and support, with student behavior problems following in second place. With a clearer definition of the trend of teacher departures, it would be beneficial for state educational agencies and districts across Delaware to find a way to support this vulnerable group and to keep highly qualified teachers where they belong: in the classroom.


  • Further explore the reasons why teachers leave their profession.
  • Provide workshops to help new teachers work with students and parents effectively.
  • Implement properly run mentoring programs to benefit new teachers.
  • Create support groups within school buildings for both new and experienced teachers to share ideas and gain strength to meet everyday challenges.

Full Study
Coming Soon!

Jean Miclette

5th Grade
Allen Frear Elementary

TNLI Affiliate:

If you would like to learn more about Teachers Network Leadership Institute--Delaware, please e-mail Michael Rasmussen.



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