Teacher recruitment and retention are closely related. Shortages exist for particular subject areas, regions, and underserved communities. Teachers of color continue to be underrepresented. Moreover, the distribution of effective teachers remains inequitable across socioeconomic levels for schools and communities. As long as measurement of student outcomes remains unclear, linking preparation, recruitment, and retention efforts to teaching effectiveness will remain challenging. However, some states, districts, and schools are finding ways to provide supports that improve recruitment and retention, including better compensation, working conditions, hiring practices, and preparation.

Adamson, F., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2012). Funding disparities and the inequitable distribution of teachers: Evaluating sources and solutions. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 20(0), 37. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v20n37.2012

Among other findings, the authors ascertained that teachers’ salaries affected the supply of teachers who considered entering teaching. They found that salaries impacted both the quality and quantity of prospective teachers.

Ballou, D. (1996). Do public schools hire the best applicants? The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 111(1), 97-133. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.2307/2946659

A teacher candidate’s strong academic record did not significantly increase the likelihood he or she would get a job. When selecting candidates for most jobs, administrators paid little attention to strong academic records.

Blackmore, J., Hobbs, L., & Rowlands, J. (2024). Aspiring teachers, financial incentives, and principals’ recruitment practices in hard-to-staff schools. Journal of Education Policy, 39(2), 233–252. https://doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2023.2193170

Through a study in Australia, the authors found that financial incentive was only one among many policy settings, personal and professional factors, and other motivations informing teachers’ decisions to apply for a position and principals’ recruitment practices.

Boyd, D. J., Grossman, P. L., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2009). Teacher preparation and student achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 31(4), 416-440. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3102/0162373709353129

This 2009 study is one of the first studies to link teacher preparation programs to teachers’ value-added scores. Conducted in New York City schools, the authors found that preparation directly linked to practice appeared to benefit teachers in their first year with implications for recruitment and retention.

Carver-Thomas, D. (2018). Diversifying the teaching profession: How to recruit and retain teachers of color. Retrieved from https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/diversifying-teaching-profession 

This report identifies benefits to diversifying the teaching profession, barriers to recruiting and retaining teachers as well as promising practices. The promising practices are organized around: high-retention, supportive pathways to teaching that include service scholarships, funded teacher residencies, and Grow Your Own programs; hiring and induction strategies that include hiring earlier in the year, partnerships, comprehensive induction, and including teachers of color in the hiring process; and improving school conditions through improved leadership by using the three percent leadership set-aside funds from Title II to improve principal recruitment, preparation, induction, and development of supportive school leadership.

Cowen, J. M., & Strunk, K. O. (2018). Teacher labor market reforms: A look ahead to the next decade. The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Education Law. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190697402.013.43

This chapter summarizes recent reforms in the teaching profession around teacher evaluation, job security, compensation, recruitment, and collective bargaining. The trends in these areas all affect recruitment and retention of teachers. As we learn more about how students learn, all of these policies should follow what we learn is best for students.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2003). Keeping good teachers: Why it matters and what leaders can do. Educational Leadership, 60(8), 6-13.

Three important findings emerged here: 1) In addition to salaries, class sizes, teaching loads, and the availability of materials, teacher participation in decision-making, strong and supportive instructional leadership from principals, and collegial learning opportunities mattered for the recruitment and retention of teachers. 2) Seeking out and hiring better prepared teachers resulted in lower attrition and higher levels of competence, which reduced later costs for dealing with unnecessary student failure and unnecessary teacher failure. 3) When the high costs of attrition were calculated, mentoring and ongoing learning and leadership challenges actually paid for themselves in large degree.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2020). Accountability in teacher education. Action in Teacher Education, 42(1), 60–71. https://doi.org/10.1080/01626620.2019.1704464

This article reviews research on elements of teacher preparation program quality and argues that professional standards can leverage greater quality if they are incorporated into professional policies governing accreditation and licensure that encourage schools of education to adopt the practices that will enable success. These include teacher assessment strategies, performance-based accreditation strategies, and investments in professional development school partnerships that will enable teacher education to firmly connect theory and practice in powerful ways, much as the teaching hospital has done for medicine.

Dee, T. S. (2004). Teachers, race, and student achievement in a randomized experiment. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 86(1), 195-210.

This study provides empirical evidence on the race of teachers related to student achievement. Models of student achievement indicated that assignment to an own-race teacher significantly increased the mathematics and reading achievement of both Black and White students. This has implications for how schools and districts recruit and retain teachers of color.

Feng, L., & Sass, T. R. (2018). The impact of incentives to recruit and retain teachers in “hard-to-staff” subjects. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 37(1), 112–135. https://doi.org/10.1002/pam.22037

The authors found that loan forgiveness and one-time bonuses had significant effects on teacher recruitment and retention.

Goldhaber, D., Grout, C., Holden, K. L., & Brown, N. (2015). Crossing the border? Exploring the cross-state mobility of the teacher workforce. Educational Researcher, 44(8), 421-431. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X15613981

One of the biggest challenges for recruitment is the limitation that exists for teachers due to state licensure requirements. This study examined Oregon and Washington teacher mobility patterns and found significant penalties for cross-state mobility that might have been due to state-specific licensure, seniority rules, and pension plans.

Goldhaber, D., Lavery, L., & Theobald, R. (2015). Uneven playing field? Assessing the teacher quality gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Educational Researcher, 44(5), 293-307. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X15592622

In a study in Washington state, the authors found empirical evidence of inequitable distribution of teachers based on teacher experience, licensure exam scores, and value-added test scores and underserved students. This included the district, school, and classroom levels. This inequity should be a cause for concern related to the recruitment and retention of teachers.

Guarino, C. M., Santibañez, L., & Daley, G. A. (2006). Teacher recruitment and retention: A review of the recent empirical literature. Review of Educational Research, 76(2), 173-208. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543076002173

While a bit dated, this review of empirical studies related to teacher recruitment and retention is still relevant and instructive. The authors identified characteristics of the people who entered and remained in the teaching profession, the types of schools that hired and retained them, and the policies that supported recruitment and retention.

Guha, R., Hyler, M. E., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2016). The teacher residency: An innovative model for preparing teachers. Retrieved from https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/teacher-residency

The authors evaluated the potential of teacher residencies for the recruitment and retention of effective educators. They found that residencies were vehicles for recruiting teachers for high-needs fields, provided teachers with strong content and pedagogical preparation, connected new teachers with mentors, and provided financial incentives that kept teachers in the districts that invested time and resources into them.

Hanushek, E. A., Piopiunik, M., & Wiederhold, S. (2019). Do smarter teachers make smarter students? International evidence on teacher cognitive skills and student performance. Education Next, 19(2). Retrieved from https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A579994797/AONE?sid=lms

The authors found an increase of one standard deviation in teacher cognitive skills was associated with an increase of 10 to 15 percent of a standard deviation in student performance. This is particularly interesting given the lack of interest many administrators show in prospective candidates’ academic records (Ballou, 1996).

Ingersoll, R. M., & Collins, M. G. (2017). Minority teacher recruitment, employment, and retention: 1987 to 2013. Retrieved from https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/minority-teacher-recruitment-report

Representation of teachers of color in the workforce remained significantly below the student population. However, teachers of color comprised 20% of the teacher workforce in 2015–16, up from just 12% thirty years earlier.

Ingersoll, R. M. (2002). The teacher shortage: A case of wrong diagnosis and wrong prescription. NASSP Bulletin, 86(631), 16-31. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/019263650208663103

Based on data from the Schools and Staffing Survey and the Teacher Follow-up Survey, Ingersoll found that school staffing problems were not principally due to teacher shortages; they did not seem to stem from an insufficient supply of qualified teachers but from an excess demand. The data indicate large numbers of qualified teachers were departing their jobs for reasons other than retirement. Popular education initiatives, such as teacher recruitment programs, will not solve schools’ staffing problems if they do not also address the organizational sources of low teacher retention.

Ingersoll, R. M., & Perda, D. (2010). Is the supply of mathematics and science teachers sufficient? American Educational Research Journal, 47(3), 563-594. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831210370711

Examining nationwide empirical evidence, the authors confirmed that there was a “large cushion” of mathematics and science teachers relative to the anticipated losses from retirement and increasing demand. While they found that enough mathematics and science teachers were being prepared, they also found staffing problems in schools with high turnover.

Ingersoll, R. M., & Smith, T. M. (2004). Do teacher induction and mentoring matter? NASSP Bulletin, 88(638), 28-40. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/019263650408863803

The authors found that beginning teachers who were provided with multiple supports were less likely to move to other schools and less likely to leave the teaching occupation altogether after their first year. Some forms of assistance and support (e.g., reduced teaching schedules, reduced preparations, or extra classroom assistance), however, did not appear to increase beginners’ retention.

Ingersoll, R. M., & Strong, M. (2011). The impact of induction and mentoring programs for beginning teachers: A critical review of the research. Review of Educational Research, 81(2), 201-233. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654311403323

The authors examined 15 empirical studies of induction. The studies indicate that induction had positive effects on student achievement and in some cases teacher retention and classroom practices. The authors discuss some of the differences between studies that might account for these positive but not identical findings.

Jacob, B. A., Rockoff, J. E., Taylor, E. S., Lindy, B., & Rosen, R. (2018). Teacher applicant hiring and teacher performance: Evidence from DC public schools. Journal of Public Economics, 166, 81–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2018.08.011

The authors found that selecting more productive employees among a pool of job applicants could be a cost-effective means of improving organizational performance and may be particularly important in the public sector. They studied the relationship among applicant characteristics, hiring outcomes, and job performance for teachers in the Washington DC Public Schools. Applicants’ academic background was not correlated with hiring. Screening measures (written assessments, interviews, and sample lessons) helped applicants get jobs by placing them on a list of recommended candidates, but they were only weakly associated with the likelihood of being hired conditional on making the list. Yet both academic background and screening measures strongly predicted teacher job performance, suggesting considerable scope for improving schools via the selection process.

Lai, I., Wood, W. J., Imberman, S. A., Jones, N. D., & Strunk, K. O. (2021). Teacher quality gaps by disability and socioeconomic status: Evidence from Los Angeles. Educational Researcher, 50(2), 74–85. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X20955170

The authors explore the differences in teacher quality experienced by students with disabilities (SWDs) and students without disabilities (non-SWDs) in the Los Angeles Unified School District, examining how access varies within schools as well as across school-level disadvantage rates. The found that SWDs are significantly more likely to have teachers with lower math value-added than their non-SWD peers, and they found emerging gaps in teacher evaluation scores and exposure to novice teachers.

Liu, E., & Johnson, S. M. (2016). New teachers’ experiences of hiring: Late, rushed, and information-poor. Educational Administration Quarterly, 42(3), 324-360. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/0013161X05282610

Based on a representative sample survey of teachers in California, Florida, Massachusetts, and Michigan, the authors found that hiring was decentralized and afforded little interaction between candidates and school personnel; they also learned the hiring process was information-poor. In California and Florida, one-third of the teachers were hired after the start of the school year.

Loeb, S., & Myung, J. (2020). Chapter 29—Economic approaches to teacher recruitment and retention. In S. Bradley & C. Green (Eds.), The Economics of Education: A Comprehensive Overview (2nd ed., pp. 403–414). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-815391-8.00029-X

In this chapter, the authors describe how the choices of teachers and the actions of schools and districts influence who enters the profession and who stays. They then identify common policy approaches for advancing recruitment and retention goals and summarize the current research, discussing the effectiveness of these policies.

McVey, K. P., & Trinidad, J. (2019). Nuance in the noise: The complex reality of teacher shortages. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED596444

The authors examined U.S. data and found that shortages were extremely variable. However, they confirmed trends in other studies with what states reported as persistent needs: special education, mathematics, science, foreign language, and English as a second language.

McVey, K. P., & Trinidad, J. (2019). Nuance in the noise: The complex reality of teacher shortages. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED596444

The authors examined U.S. data and found that shortages were extremely variable. However, they confirmed trends in other studies with what states reported as persistent needs: special education, mathematics, science, foreign language, and English as a second language.

Nguyen, T. D., & Springer, M. G. (2021). A conceptual framework of teacher turnover: A systematic review of the empirical international literature and insights from the employee turnover literature. Educational Review, 1–36. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2021.1940103

The authors present a conceptual framework of teacher turnover, using 40 years of employee turnover literature and find the effects of personal, school, and external factors. The study describes the influences that impact attrition and additional research needed.

Papay, J. P., & Kraft, M. A. (2016). The productivity costs of inefficient hiring practices: Evidence from late teacher hiring. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 35(4), 791-817. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1002/pam.21930

Papay and Kraft confirmed that teachers hired after the beginning of the year were less effective and more likely to leave the workforce than other new teachers. They found that teachers hired after the beginning of the year had less time to plan lessons and understand school and district operations. Not surprisingly, they tended to be more overwhelmed. Moreover, districts that hired late were likely hiring from a pool of weaker teachers because the better-prepared teachers had already been hired.

Podolsky, A., Kini, T., Darling-Hammond, L., & Bishop, J. (2019). Strategies for attracting and retaining educators: What does the evidence say? Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27(0), 38. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.27.3722

The authors confirmed teacher shortages in mathematics, science, and special education as well as in locations where compensation and working conditions were least attractive. Based on their review of policies, they recommended increasing teacher compensation and improving their preparation, professional support, and working conditions as well as improving district and school management practices that otherwise created obstacles to recruitment and retention.

Reading, C., Khupe, C., Redford, M., Wallin, D., Versland, T., Taylor, N., & Hampton, P. (2019). Educating for sustainability in remote locations. Rural Educator, 40(2), 43-53.

While not receiving as much attention or focus in the literature, rural education remains challenging for recruitment of teachers. This paper describes experiences that involve innovative approaches toward educating for sustainability in remote locations in six countries: Australia, Canada, Pacific Island Nations, Scotland, South Africa, and the United States.

Ronfeldt, M., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2013). How teacher turnover harms student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 50(1), 4-36. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831212463813

After reviewing data on 850,000 students over eight years, the researchers found that students in grade levels with higher teacher turnover scored lower in both English language arts (ELA) and mathematics and that these effects were particularly strong in schools with more low-performing and Black students. Moreover, the results suggest that there is a disruptive effect of turnover beyond changing the distribution in teacher quality.

Rutledge, S. A., Harris, D. N., Thompson, C. T., & Ingle, W. K. (2008). Certify, blink, hire: An examination of the process and tools of teacher screening and selection. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 7(3), 237-263. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/15700760701822132

Similar to Liu and Johnson (2016) and Papay and Kraft (2016), the authors found numerous barriers to information-rich sources of evidence for hiring practices. They found that these practices were comparable to other professions of similar complexity.

Sass, T. R., Hannaway, J., Xu, Z., Figlio, D. N., & Feng, L. (2012). Value added of teachers in high poverty schools and lower poverty schools (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. ID 2020368). Retrieved from https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2020368

Similar to Boyd et al. (2009), the authors found a disproportionate number of underprepared and inexperienced teachers in low-income, high-minority schools.

Steele, J. L., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2010). Do financial incentives help low-performing schools attract and keep academically talented teachers? Evidence from California. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 29(3), 451–487.

A $20,000 incentive to teach in low performing schools in California resulted in a significant increase in the number of academically talented teachers and also increased the likelihood that they would remain in those schools for at least four years.

Sutcher, L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Carver-Thomas, D. (2019). Understanding teacher shortages: An analysis of teacher supply and demand in the United States. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27(35). https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.27.3696

Using national databases through 2016, the authors predict an estimated annual teacher shortage of approximately 112,000 teachers in 2017–18. Our recent review of state teacher workforce reports estimated 109,000 individuals were uncertified for their teaching positions in the US in 2017. The authors recommend enhancing teaching salaries and scholarships linked to service could enhance recruitment. Mentoring/induction and improving teaching conditions could improve retention.