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Teacher attrition, in which educators leave their school, school district or the entire career field, is considered a problem because it leads to a shortage of skilled and experienced educators. Preventing teacher attrition may be easier once the typical factors behind it are known. One of the main ways to determine the likelihood of educators leaving is to look at the school type and subject, which are major factors in teacher attrition. The school itself often has a hand in this problem, too, because lack of preparation, inefficient staff support and low academic achievement all encourage teachers to go elsewhere. Teachers' personalities also have a lot to do with this overall pattern, because the number of years they have in the industry, the distance from their hometown, and their own exam scores all factor into whether they will stay or go.
One of the main factors in teacher attrition is the type of school. Teachers at charter schools are much more likely to leave than those at public schools, as are educators at private schools, though the difference is often slight. Another factor of attrition rates is the size of the school, because educators at large schools are less likely to leave than those at small schools. In addition, those who teach special education and English tend to have the highest attrition rates, while teachers presiding over classes involving the arts are more likely to stay.
Some factors that influence teacher attrition are not set in stone and can be improved with the help of the school administration. For example, one of the most common causes of teacher attrition is low support from the administration. To lower attrition, school staff members are encouraged to provide more help to teachers, especially because lack of preparation for the school year is another common reason for attrition in the industry. On the other hand, some teachers leave because members of the administration involve themselves too much in the classroom, micromanaging the classes. In some cases, though, the teacher shortage has more to do with students than staff, because low academic achievement in a school also tends to result in teachers leaving.
Not all causes of teacher attrition can be helped by schools, because the traits of teachers also play a role. For example, teachers new to the field are the most likely to leave, and many do not even spend three years teaching before leaving for another industry. Teachers who move far away from their hometown to teach are unlikely to stay long, but this tends to be the case in other industries, as well. In addition, teachers who score the highest on exams during their own time in school are more likely to quit the profession, or at least transfer schools often, than those who score lower. This tends to be especially true in schools with low academic achievement, which often makes the problem worse, because these schools cannot afford to lose quality teachers.