Are teachers in charter schools more likely to leave their jobs than those at traditional public schools? If so, why? Those questions and other issues related to teaching conditions are examined in a research brief just posted on the NCSC Web site for the paper “Teacher Turnover in Charter Schools,” by David A. Stuit and Thomas M. Smith.
The brief is designed to be useful to both the general public – including educators and parents – and to scholars and graduate students. Using plain language and straightforward explanations it tells how the researchers framed the project and conducted the study. It explains terms and processes from the paper and highlights the research questions and key findings so they are easy to identify.
Major findings include:
- Charter school teachers are much more likely both to leave the profession and to switch schools than teachers in traditional public schools.
- Among charter schools, attrition is likelier to be higher in those started from the ground up than those converted from traditional public schools.
- Differences in teacher characteristics explain much of the differences in attrition among charter and traditional public school teachers. For example, charter teachers are more likely to be part time and less likely to have state certification – two factors found to contribute to turnover.
- Dissatisfaction with working conditions is an important reason why charter school teachers are significantly more likely to switch schools or leave the profession.
- Charter school teachers are more likely to leave involuntarily, possibly because of staffing action at the school, than are teachers in traditional public schools. The study also found little evidence, however, that turnover is higher at charter schools because they exercise greater flexibility in personnel practices.
The relative freedom charter schools have from rules and regulations that govern traditional public schools is often of interest in charter school research, and the brief tells how the study investigated whether this difference might foster different organizational conditions in the two sectors that could affect teacher attrition.
The study also investigated whether turnover differs among different types of charter schools and found that schools run by education management organizations (EMOs) did not have significantly different turnover rates than their non-EMO counterparts. It also did not find a significant difference in turnover between new charter schools and those that have operated for more than three years.
The paper’s findings have important policy implications. High turnover is both expensive and disruptive for schools so understanding the reasons teachers leave their jobs is important. As the brief notes, the findings that charter school teachers are more likely to leave their jobs, and that departure is more likely to be driven by job dissatisfaction, may help explain why charter schools do not systematically outperform their traditional public school counterparts.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read these papers about teachers in schools of choice from the NCSC publications archive.