Factors contributing to teacher retention in Georgia
The purpose of this mixed method, survey-based inquiry was to determine how Georgia public high school faculty members perceive various pressures and experiences associated with a career in education. These perceptions were then analyzed as possible indicators of teacher attrition in order to improve retention rates. The independent demographic variables selected to analyze these perceptions included level of education attained, years of teaching experience, and school size based on student enrollment numbers. Qualitative data examined the role of an educator, why one would choose to remain in or leave the field of education, and the future plans of the current educators. The faculty survey incorporated 30 items based on a Likert-type scaled response section with five qualitative open-ended questions. This mixed method analysis was chosen to provide more of a holistic examination of the state's teacher retention problem. A total of 545 surveys were analyzed from both the northern and southern counties of the state of Georgia. The implication of this study was to serve as guidance for future improvements of teacher retention rates throughout the state. The quantitative data reveals that most teachers in the state of Georgia have obtained their master's degrees, are within the first 5 years of their educational career, and view administrative support and working conditions as positive aspects of their teaching experience. From the qualitative analysis, it was evident that teachers view their role as important due to preparing students for future careers or simply as a preparation for high-stakes testing. The majority of teachers feel that the role of an educator has changed over the years and most have considered leaving their chosen careers due to low morale, low pay, and/or the amount of time required for the paperwork involved. Teachers stated that the reason they have chosen to remain in education is due to the intrinsic rewards such as making a difference in the life of a young person and the love or enjoyment that education provides. When asked about their future plans, almost half of the current teaching force was uncertain, and another one-third plan to leave the classroom.