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In the face of a growing school-age population, U.S. schools and school districts are struggling to maintain teaching standards while recruiting bright new teachers and retaining their most-effective ones. This literature review represents a comprehensive and critical examination of research published since 1980 on the topic of teacher recruitment and retention in the United States. It is designed to provide a broad understanding of the patterns governing the entry and exit of individuals into and from teaching and the evidence regarding the types of policies that affect teacher recruitment and retention. The authors grouped the research studies into several categories — those that examined the characteristics of individuals who enter teaching and who remain in teaching, those that investigated the external characteristics of districts and schools, those that examined compensation policies, and those that examined pre-service and in-service policies.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    A Conceptual Framework for Synthesizing the Literature on Teacher Recruitment and Retention

  • Chapter Three


  • Chapter Four

    The Characteristics of Individuals Who Enter and Leave Teaching

  • Chapter Five

    The External Characteristics of Districts and Schools That Successfully Recruit and Retain Teachers

  • Chapter Six

    Policies to Promote Recruitment and Retention

  • Chapter Seven

    Summary, Conclusions, and Suggestions for Future Research

  • Appendix A

    Summaries of Reviewed Research Studies

The research described in this report was prepared for the Education Commission of the States by RAND Education.

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