SALT LAKE CITY — There are no simple answers why Utah educators leave the profession, but a subset of teachers who answered a University of Utah survey identified emotional exhaustion, stress and burnout as key reasons for moving to a different school or leaving altogether.
This was one early finding in a new report by the Utah Education Policy Center within the U.'s College of Education titled, "Why Do Teachers Choose Teaching and Remain in Teaching?"
Initial findings of the survey released Thursday also include key reasons educators went into teaching and stuck with education as a career choice.
The more than 2,000 respondents to the Educator Career and Pathway Survey identified the top reasons for going into teaching as: making a difference in children's lives; contributing to societal good; and experience in working with children or young adults.
The factors that greatly influenced their decision to become teachers were retirement and insurance benefits; followed by "participation in an early career program during my high school years”; lack of other job opportunities; and lastly, salary.
Andrea Rorrer, director of the policy center, said the initial findings suggest there is much to learn about the “reality behind the rhetoric” of teacher mobility and retention.
Diana Suddreth, director of teaching and learning for the Utah State Board of Education, said the survey results offer "concrete evidence" of Utah educators' commitment to children and society.
The early findings also give education officials a clearer picture of why teachers stick with teaching as a career.
The top reasons identified by teachers are relationships with colleagues and peers; interest in the subject matter; contributing to societal good; summers off and convenience of the work schedule; and a desire to make a difference in children's lives, the survey said.
“The data we now have on why teachers decide to remain in teaching will give us direction as we plan initiatives focused on teacher retention," Suddreth said.
While the vast majority of educators who responded to the survey are teachers who have stayed in the profession, most who had remained at the same school from the previous school year, nearly 200 self-identified as moving to a new school or leaving the profession.
Among those educators, top concerns included education reform measures, salary, compensation tied to the performance of their students and level of support they received to prepare students for assessments.
The report, authored by Rorrer and Yongmei Ni, assistant director of the policy center, was based on a survey distributed through the Utah State Board of Education's database of licensed Utah school teachers.
Some 29,000 teachers were asked to take the survey and 2,025 responded and completed it. Another 1,356 teachers responded but stopped when asked for their last names and Comprehensive Administration of Credentials for Teachers in Utah Schools or CACTUS identification numbers.
According to the authors, survey data will be further analyzed to understand "the nuances of experiences among those who participated."