Patterns of Attrition Among Indiana Teachers, 1965-1987

An Executive Summary

by David W. Grissmer, Sheila Nataraj Kirby

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This report, one in a series focusing on Indiana teachers, presents findings regarding the patterns of teacher attrition among full-time teachers in Indiana from 1965-1987. It considers (1) whether teachers are leaving the profession at growing rates, (2) the roles played by compensation and working conditions in retaining teachers, (3) whether shortages of teachers are likely, (4) whether more attractive job opportunities are increasing attrition rates for women teachers, (5) types of teachers that stay longest in the profession, and (6) how attrition rates differ by subject taught. The findings indicate that teacher trends have been greatly affected by the changing pattern of women's participation in the labor force. Women teachers have followed the general trend among women of strongly increasing full-time participation in the labor force. The outlook for future trends in teacher attrition is mixed. Teacher attrition rates should remain low by historical standards for the next ten years, provided pay levels are maintained in real terms. The other factors that have restrained attrition rates should continue to do so. These include the presence of a predominantly mid- to late-career teaching force; strong labor-force participation for women; increased proportions of newly entering, older teachers; and declining class sizes. In the longer term, teacher attrition rates will rise as the larger group of mid- to late-career teachers retires and is replaced by younger teachers.

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