Leaving education : a descriptive single-case study examining what factors drive teachers from the profession in Oklahoma.
Teacher attrition adversely impacts the academic future of the students in public schools. Each year, thousands of classrooms go without qualified teachers to provide instruction. Without qualified teachers to instruct students using college and career readiness standards, education agencies, including state departments of education, districts, and schools, remain ill-equipped to meet federal and state education policies. Thusly, teacher attrition remains concerning in the United States. As attrition remains steady, or in some states increases, teacher shortages increase, and student instruction suffers. The impetus of attrition for schools, especially those where attrition rates remain constant and high, call for further research and recommendations to remedy the situation. This descriptive single-case study explored the factors influencing teachers to leave the profession, specifically in Oklahoma. The research focused on the lived experiences of teachers from one of the 15 school districts in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. This study answered the following research questions: what are the lived experiences of former teachers that chose to leave the profession? And what factors influenced teachers’ decisions to leave the profession pre-retirement in Oklahoma? The associated literature review highlighted the state trends in attrition in Oklahoma and how those trends compared to national trends. Literature focused on teacher attrition provided further perspective and commentary on the influences of teacher attrition as examined through the Theory of Teacher Attrition framework. This study identified the gap in the research as to what influenced attrition in Oklahoma. Emerging themes surrounding influences on teacher attrition included, low- to no-impact new teacher orientation, ineffective or non-existent mentorship, absentee or disconnected school administration, workload, and “bait and switch” experiences. The study also explored the implications of the data associated with attrition. Finally, the study brought together recommendations as to how targeted and specific attention to the influences of attrition may reduce the teacher shortage and increase teacher retention.