A Look Behind the Curtain: Job Search Behaviors of Teachers After Year One

WCER Working Paper No. 2020-7

Peter Goff, Eunji You, Lydia Gandy-Fastovich, Minseok Yang, Lena Batt, Xin Xie, and Hyunwoo Yang


July 2020, 32 pp.

ABSTRACT: By coupling statewide vacancy/application records with administrative data, we find that activity on the teacher labor market is substantially greater than previously documented, with 53% of novice teachers searching for new positions after their first year and 27% changing schools or leaving the public system. The empirical evidence favors preference alignment theory, showing that first-year teachers are more likely to reenter the labor market after their first year when their preferences and their current employment context diverge. This finding is particularly true for the individuals with a preference for a suburban locale and for school and student characteristics, such as the proportion of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch. Once an individual has initiated a job search, preference alignment appears to be unrelated to subsequent mobility. The findings suggest that processes that can facilitate a stronger initial match of novice teachers to their desired employment situations may help mitigate turnover in the following year.

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keywords: teacher turnover, teacher mobility, job preference, first-year teachers, novice teachers, Wisconsin