OKLAHOMA CITY - We know Oklahoma has a teacher shortage. But the Department of Education wanted to know exactly why. So, the Department commissioned the survey of teachers who are no longer teaching in the state.

The results are based on nearly 5,500 teachers under the age of 65 who responded.

The biggest reason they left - no surprise here: pay. 

When asked in an open-ended question why they left the profession, 20% said it was because of the pay, with another 14% who said they had a better opportunity, which the Department of Education says is likely related to pay, as is the 19% who said they moved to another state.

Sixteen percent said they left teaching for personal reasons, 6% said leadership and regulations was the reason for leaving, and another 6% said they quit teaching because they don't feel valued or respected.

But the big take away may be how many teachers who left the profession say they would come back if they would get a pay raise.

“We have 30,000 educators who are paying to keep their certification active in Oklahoma but they are not teaching in an Oklahoma School,” said Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

According to the survey, nearly half of younger teachers and 31% overall, would return to the classroom if pay was better. Do the math, and that's 7,000 to 8,000 teachers that would be willing to return to the classroom.

“Now we have the evidence that confirms we can attract back thousands of educators who already hold….an active Oklahoma teaching certificate.”

Superintendent Hofmeister says she is now asking for a $5,000 teacher raise all this year. In the past, she has advocated phasing in that raise.