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About Teacher Turnover Calculations

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Understanding the Cost of Replacing a Teacher

Replacing a teacher requires significant resources and personnel time. Although the costs within a district or school can vary substantially, the most significant costs are those associated with separation, recruiting and hiring new teachers, and training replacements. Below is a list of activities that are often associated with replacing a teacher, all of which have related financial and personnel costs.

* Denotes a high-leverage recruitment and retention strategy.


Standard practice

  • Removing teachers from payroll and health plans and processing eligible refunds of retirement contributions
  • Paying substitutes to cover for mid-year departures
  • Conducting exit surveys*

Standard practice

  • Advertising open positions
  • Traveling to job fairs and interview sites
  • Responding to inquiries from prospective candidates, corresponding with applicants, and drafting offer/rejection letters
  • Scheduling site visits and conducting interviews*
  • Conducting criminal background checks, health record checks, credentialing checks, and reference checks
  • Adding new teachers to payroll and benefit programs

Additional activities

  • Designing and developing advertisements and recruitment web pages
  • Working with teacher preparation programs to identify strong candidates*
  • Coordinating recruitment activities with state programs
  • Traveling overseas for recruitment
  • Offering new hires signing or relocation bonuses, housing and moving allowances, and rent or day care subsidies
  • Meeting with candidates and members of search committees
  • Completing affirmative action paperwork
  • Purchasing equipment for digital fingerprinting
  • Archiving teacher records 

Standard practice

  • Introducing new hires and teacher transfers to school goals and governance procedures
  • Coordinating and staffing mentoring programs and related forms of structured induction, including stipends for mentors and payments to substitutes who replace mentors with reduced teaching loads*
  • Onboarding workshops and professional development activities*

Additional activities

  • Holding welcome events to integrate new hires into the school community
  • Providing new-employee orientation
  • Traveling to training sessions and professional meetings
  • Instructing new hires on the goals and specific elements of the state’s testing programs
  • Training mentor teachers
  • Paying substitutes while teachers attend training activities
  • Reducing teaching loads for beginning teachers
  • Reimbursing tuition and fees for additional induction or professional development 

A note about our district estimates

To derive our estimates, we averaged individual estimates from several studies[i] by district type and adjusted each estimate for inflation. These averages by district type provide an approximate plausible value to help districts and their stakeholders begin to understand their own costs.


[i] Barnes, G., Crowe, E., & Schaefer, B. (2007). The cost of teacher turnover in five school districts: A pilot study. National Commission on Teaching and America's Future; Milanowski, A., & Odden, A. (2007). A new approach to the cost of teacher turnover. Seattle, WA: School Finance Redesign Project, Center on Reinventing Public Education; Shockley, R., Guglielmino, P., & Watlington, E. J. (2006). A national crisis in teacher education: What are the costs? Pearson Education.