The retention and attrition of early-career music teachers: a survival analysis

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Over 30 states have experienced a shortage of music teachers in the past decade. The attrition of early-career teachers is one of the largest contributing factors to the rising demand for teachers nationally, but there is a lack of rigorous empirical research examining characteristics associated with attrition of music teachers. I leveraged data from the Maryland Longitudinal Data System to examine early-career music teachers’ retention and attrition patterns between 2013 and 2020 using descriptive statistics and discrete-time survival analysis (N = 6430). On average, 74% of early-career music teachers retained their current position each year, 8% moved to a different school in Maryland, and 18% of left public school music teaching in Maryland. Survival analysis indicated that half of all music teachers left public-school music teaching in Maryland within their first five years of teaching. Attrition risk was greatest in years two and three. Other factors associated with attrition risk included sex, race, ethnicity, school grade level, aspects of school culture, the student body, school and district urbanicity, and the number of teachers employed by the school district. Discussed policy recommendations include mentorship programs, teacher compensation, school resources, comprehensive family leave, and music teacher recruitment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArts Education Policy Review
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • arts education policy
  • Music education
  • survival analysis
  • teacher attrition
  • teacher shortage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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