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Currently state policymakers are taking a second look at working conditions as means to increased teacher retention and student achievement. According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center on Education Statistics 2004-2005 Follow-up Report on Teacher Attrition and Mobility, in 2000-01, 32% of teachers in public schools reported that they moved to a new school due to dissatisfaction with workplace conditions. Teachers cite a lack of support and poor working conditions among the primary factors for leaving. Other research shows that teachers who leave dissatisfied do so not only because of poor salaries, but due to poor administrative support, lack of faculty influence, intrusions on teaching, and no opportunities for advancement.
According to the National Education Association's article, The Workplace Matters: Teacher Quality, Retention, and Effectiveness, working conditions can be defined as the following:
- The physical features of buildings, equipment, and resources
- The organizational structures that define teachers' formal positions and relationship with others in the school, such as lines of authority, workload, autonomy, and supervisory arrangements
- The sociological features that shape how teachers experience their work, including their roles, status, and the characteristics of their students and peers
- The political features of their organization, such as whether teachers have decision-making authority
- The cultural features of the school, such as values, traditions, and norms
- The psychological features of the environment, such as teacher efficacy and opportunities for learning and growth
- The educational features, such as curriculum and testing policies.