High attrition and turnover of teachers are a major part of the problem in theeducation system today, costs of teacher turnover are disproportionately borne by students in hard-to-staff schools, typically those serving primarily students of color and students in poverty. They rely on uncertified teachers as a last resort. This year, there are more than 100,000 classrooms across the country staffed by an instructor who is not fully qualified to teach. 90% ofopen teaching positions are created by teachers who leave the profession. Some are retiring, but about 2/3 of teachers leave for other reasons, most due to dissatisfactions with teaching. If the current trend continues, this number is projected to rise to over 300,000 by 2025.
- Teaching profession has a national attrition rate of about 7.3% annually.
- Turnover rates are 70% higher in schools serving the largest concentrations of students of color
Underqualified teachers hired to fill empty spots have a negative impact on student learning.
- Each teacher who leaves, on average, can cost as much as $20,000 in an urban district.
- More than $8 billion now wasted annually on replacement costs because of teacher turnover.
A number of studies have found that well-designed mentoring programs improve retention rates for new teachers, as well as their attitudes, feelings of efficacy, and instructional skills. If a teacher receives basic mentoring, pluscollaboration, a strong teacher network, and extra resources, first-yearturnover (leaving the school or the profession) is cut by more than half, from 41% to 18%.
High-achieving countries like Finland, Singapore, and Ontario, Canada, have rates of attrition that are typically less than half the rate the United States. These countries manage to attract, prepare, and distribute well-trained teachers to all students by increasing incentives rather than lowering standards. These countries and others that rarely experience teacher shortages have made substantial investments in teacher training and distribution in the last two decades, including:
- Salaries that are competitive with other professions (often with additional incentives for hard-to- staff locations).
- High-quality teacher education, usually at the graduate level and largely at government expense.
- Mentoring for beginners in their first year of teaching from expert teachers, coupled with a reduced teaching load and shared planning time;
- Collegial work settings offering ongoing professional learning embedded in 10–20 hours a week of planning and professional development time;
- Opportunities for expert, veteran teachers to be engaged in leading curriculum development, professional development, and mentoring/coaching for their peers.
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