Teacher retention in Appalachian schools: Evidence from Kentucky

Joshua M. Cowen, J. S. Butler, Jacob Fowles, Megan E. Streams, Eugenia F. Toma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In this paper we analyze teacher attrition from Appalachian school districts over nearly twenty years of data. We employ a unique panel of public K-12 teachers active in Kentucky between 1986 and 2005, and discern several patterns of interest to scholars and policymakers. Inter-district mobility is rare in Kentucky, and rarer still among Appalachian teachers. Few teachers transfer between regions, but teachers are considerably more likely to leave Appalachia than to transfer to it. Our results also indicate that Appalachian teachers are more likely to exit the profession. One implication of this evidence is that improvements to teacher quality in such isolated areas would require a focus on the home labor pool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-441
Number of pages11
JournalEconomics of Education Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is sponsored by a Spencer Foundation Grant (No. 201000055 ) under the project title, Teaching Careers in Rural Schools. We thank the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board, and especially Terry Hibpshman, for invaluable research and data assistance. We also thank Leanna Stiefel, Joydeep Roy and other participants at the 2010 meetings of the Association for Education Finance and Policy in Richmond. Finally, we appreciate the perceptive comments of an anonymous referee. All errors are our own.


  • Education reform
  • Rural education
  • Teacher labor markets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Economics and Econometrics


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