Lemons, L. L., Brashears, T. M., Burris, S., Meyers, C., & Price, M. A. (2015). Factors Contributing to Attrition as Reported by Leavers of Secondary Agriculture Programs. Journal of Agricultural Education. 56(4). 17 - 30. doi: 10.5032/jae.2015.04017
There exists in our profession a persistent shortage of quality teachers in our high school agricultural education classrooms. A multitude of studies have identified challenges faced by agriculture teachers, however, few, if any, have investigated reasons for attrition by directly asking leavers why they left. This study sought to identify reasons for leaving the profession as perceived by former high school agriculture teachers. Nine former secondary agriculture teachers were interviewed. Themes emerging from this qualitative case study include 1) passions for the profession, 2) alternative opportunities, 3) expectations, 4) burdens, retrospectively and 5) people. Teachers were passionate about their students, their content area and competition inherent in agricultural education. All of the participants had chosen to accept alternative employment opportunities. Former teachers recalled having high expectations for themselves and their career, and perceiving others to have high expectations as well. The teachers recalled the burdens of their job retrospectively, and people played an integral role in their career as well as their decision to leave the profession. Former teachers were satisfied while teaching, but found greater benefit in alternative opportunities. Recommendations include encouraging realistic expectations, developing mentor programs for novice teachers, and strengthening the benefits of remaining in the profession.