11 SES 06, Improvement of Teaching Processes
Teacher shortages are a widespread and recurring problem in public school systems (Dolton 2006; White & Smith 2005). Faced with shortages, school leaders tend to either lower recruitment standards, make increased use of temporary teachers or increase class sizes (Smithers and Robinson 2000), all of which have been linked with reduced pupil attainment (Mocetti 2012; Fredriksson et al 2013; Schanzenbach 2006).
Low retention is an important reason for teacher shortages in many countries. Several studies have found the proportion of disadvantaged pupils in a school to be the best predictor of high teacher turnover, apparently leaving little scope for improving retention. However, a recent reinterpretation of the literature found that in studies in which efforts were made to control for the quality of teachers’ working environment, “all or most” of the relationship between student characteristics and teacher turnover was explained away (Simon & Johnson 2015, p14). Johnson and Birkeland (2002, p609) conceptualise the importance of working conditions as enabling teachers to practice without impediment, develop their skills and therefore obtain a “sense of success”, which motivates them to stay in the classroom.
However, despite these recent advances, the existing literature on how working conditions affect teacher retention has some important limitations. In particular, there is almost no quantitative research on European education systems. The OECD's Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) is part of a trend toward supra-national bodies collecting cross-country data on education.
Dolton, P.J., 2006. Teacher supply. Handbook of the Economics of Education, 2, pp.1079-1161. Fredriksson, P., Öckert, B. and Oosterbeek, H., 2013. Long-term effects of class size. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 128(1), pp.249-285. Johnson, S.M. and Birkeland, S.E., 2003. Pursuing a “sense of success”: New teachers explain their career decisions. American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), pp.581-617. Mocetti, S., 2012. Educational choices and the selection process: before and after compulsory schooling. Education Economics, 20(2), pp.189-209. Simon, N.S. and Johnson, S.M., 2015. Teacher turnover in high-poverty schools: What we know and can do. Teachers College Record, 117(3), pp.1-36. Smithers, A., and Robinson, P. 2000. Factors affecting teachers' decisions to leave the profession. Department for Education and Skills Research Report RR430. Schanzenbach, D.W., 2006. What have researchers learned from Project STAR? Brookings Papers on Education Policy, 9, pp.205-228. White, P., and Smith, E. 2005. What can PISA tell us about teacher shortages? European Journal of Education, 40(1), pp.93-112.
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