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Retaining High Performers: Insights from DC Public Schools’ Teacher Exit Survey

Kaitlin Pennington
Alexander Brand
Publication

As school districts across the country report various kinds of teacher shortages, how to retain teachers has emerged as a key area of interest for district leaders and policymakers. There are a variety of incentives and strategies to keep teachers in the profession, but which ones are most effective? Asking teachers themselves yields answers, some of which cut against the grain of conventional wisdom in the education community.  

In order to better understand why teachers leave the profession, we analyzed teacher exit survey data from the District of Columbia Public Schools to determine what could have retained them or what would have had no effect. Because we believe that retention efforts should be focused on effective teachers, we broke down teachers’ responses by their latest teacher evaluation performance rating and focused our analysis on high-performing teachers.

Although DCPS is unique in some ways, lessons about what could have retained high-performing teachers may be transferable to other urban districts. The slide deck below presents our findings and offers considerations for other urban school districts.

Download the full slide deck here, or read it in the viewer below.