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What's the Cost of Teacher Turnover?

Let’s Talk: Starting a Conversation About Teacher Turnover

High teacher turnover—or churn—undermines student achievement and consumes valuable staff time and resources. It also contributes to teacher shortages throughout the country, as roughly 6 of 10 new teachers hired each year are replacing colleagues who left the classroom before retirement. Research shows that urban districts can, on average, spend more than $20,000 on each new hire, including school and district expenses related to separation, recruitment, hiring, and training. These investments don’t pay their full dividend when teachers leave within 1 or 2 years after being hired.

Turnover rates vary by school and district, with those in rural and urban settings or that serve high percentages of student in poverty experiencing the highest rates. Use this tool to estimate the cost of teacher turnover in your school or district and to inform a local conversation about how to attract, support, and retain a high-quality teacher workforce. High-leverage strategies are highlighted below.

3. How Can We Reduce Teacher Turnover?
Local, state, and federal education leaders and policymakers all have an important role to play in addressing high teacher turnover and perennial staffing difficulties. The research points to the strategies below as key to building a strong and stable teacher workforce. (Safari users: Enable plug-ins to view links)

Strengthen Preparation

Beginning teachers with little preparation are 2½ times more likely to leave the classroom after 1 year, compared to their well-prepared peers.

What policymakers can do:
Improve Hiring and Management Practices

Schools and districts that adopt effective hiring practices generally are more likely to attract, hire, and retain effective teachers.

What policymakers can do:
Expand and Strengthen Support for New Teachers

New teachers who do not receive mentoring and other supports leave at more than twice the rate of those who are supported.

What policymakers can do:
Improve Working Conditions

Teachers often cite lack of support from their principals as the top reason for leaving. They also cite limited decision-making input and limited opportunities to collaborate with colleagues as reasons to leave.

What policymakers can do:
  • Invest in the development of high-quality principals by providing them with professional learning opportunities that support their ability to create the productive, collaborative work settings that are important to retaining teachers.
  • Survey teachers to inform and guide improvements to the teaching and learning environment.
  • Foster greater collaboration by changing the school schedule to allow time for common planning and shared learning opportunities, including the development of professional learning communities.
Increase Compensation

After adjusting for the differential work year, beginning teachers earn about 20% less than individuals with college degrees in other fields—a wage gap that can widen to 30% for mid-career educators. This low pay contributes to turnover.

What policymakers can do: