A Snapshot of Educator Mobility in Montana

Understanding Issues of Educator Shortages and Turnover

Published in: ERIC Institute of Education Sciences website (2019)

Posted on RAND.org on February 17, 2021

by Sun Young Yoon, Kata Mihaly, Aurora Moore

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This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

This study was conducted at the request of education policymakers who participate in the Montana Rural Recruitment and Retention Task Force. Like many states, Montana is struggling to recruit and retain qualified educators, especially in certain subject areas and in more rural parts of the state. The purpose of this study is to provide information that will help the task force address these challenges. Task force members asked REL Northwest to examine the following questions:

  1. What is the extent of educator shortages in the state in 2017/18?
    • How do educator shortage patterns vary by characteristics of school systems?
  2. To what extent did educators stay in their position and school system, move to a different position within the school system, move to a different school system, or leave the public education system between 2016/17 and 2017/18?
    • How do educators' decisions to stay, move, or leave school systems and/or positions vary by the characteristics of educators and school systems?
  3. To what extent were teachers and principals in Montana employed in multiple roles within their school systems and/or within multiple school systems in 2016/17?
    • How did patterns in holding multiple roles differ by the characteristics of school systems?

To examine these questions, REL Northwest used statewide administrative data from 2016/17 and 2017/18.

Task force members were also interested in the intended mobility of educators in the following school year (2018/19), including factors associated with accepting their current position, and—for administrators—the top barriers they faced to hiring teachers. To meet this request, we examined data from an existing statewide survey of teachers, principals, and superintendents, and we provide the findings in an appendix.

Task force members and other policymakers in Montana will use this information as they determine how to address the state's educator workforce challenges. Given the high percentage of schools located in rural areas in Montana, the study findings may be useful to other states with similar demographics.

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