Document Type


Publication Date



Teacher sorting, out-of-field teaching

Series Title

Office for Education Policy

Series Number

Volume 02 Issue 03


Over the past decade, we’ve heard time and again the dire warning that a major teacher shortage is imminent in our public schools. But is this really the case? Teacher education programs actually produce enough teachers each year to compensate for those who retire. Rather, some researchers suggest that we have focused too much on teacher shortages (the inability to recruit enough teachers) and not enough on teacher attrition (losing teachers already in the field). According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) latest School and Staffing Survey (SASS), about one-third of teachers quit during their first three years, and almost half leave within five years (Gruber, Wiley, Broughman, Strizek, & Burian-Fitzgerald, 2002). Turnover is highest in poor, predominantly minority schools. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (2002) has characterized this problem as a “revolving door,” in which many good teachers keep coming in. . .but then go right back out again.