Supports Associated with Teacher Retention in Michigan

Research Rundown Issue: November '21
Publisher: Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest at American Institutes for Research
Date Published: September '21


In Michigan between 2014 to 2019, average annual teacher retention rates ranged from 33% to 100%. Researchers combined this finding with responses from teacher surveys to identify four specific supports associated with higher retention for new teachers:

  • Mentoring for new teachers: Survey data indicated that 85.6% of districts offered mentoring for new teachers. Overall, teachers in these districts had a 2.2 percentage point higher probability of staying in their position than teachers in districts that did not have a mentoring program.
  • Regular supportive communication between principals and teachers: Teachers in 81.7% of districts reported that they experienced regular supportive communication between principals, other school leaders, and teachers. Teachers in these districts had a 1.3 percentage point higher probability of staying than teachers in districts that did not.
  • New teacher orientation: Teacher survey response data indicated that 68.6% of districts offered new teachers with an orientation to their school. Teachers in these districts had a 1.4 percentage point higher likelihood of staying than those in districts that did not offer new teacher orientation.
  • Opportunity to set goals in evaluation: All Michigan districts are required to annually evaluate their teachers and it must include a student growth measure. However, there is some flexibility in the other metrics that can be included in the evaluation, including allowing teachers to set goals. In districts that did this, teachers stayed in their position at a rate 5.2 percentage points higher than teachers in districts that did not.

Overall, the researchers found that districts that serve the highest percentage of low-income students had much lower retention rates than other districts. To better understand this relationship, the authors did separate analyses. They found that increased retention in these districts was associated with two supports—annual salary increases (3 percentage points higher) and the opportunity to set goals in evaluation (14.4 percentage points higher). The latter is notable, because while it mirrors findings across all schools, the scale of the impact was much more significant.

Why This Matters in Minnesota

During the 2021 legislative session, the Minnesota legislature took some steps to retain teachers, including requiring all districts to have a mentoring program for new teachers and allocating $4.5 million for mentoring and retention grants for teachers of color. Like Michigan, Minnesota statute requires all teachers be evaluated annually and it must include an option for teachers to “develop and present a portfolio demonstrating evidence of reflection and professional growth.” Given the evidence in this report, districts that don’t already do it may want to consider also allowing teachers to set goals for themselves. Districts should also evaluate their programming to ensure that they are taking the necessary steps to provide new teachers with comprehensive orientation and regular communication.

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