New report analyzes attrition cost, issues recommendations for teacher support

teacher-attritionTeacher attrition costs the United States up to $2.2 billion a year, and states including California and Texas are among the top when it comes to financial impact.

A new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) examines the reasons teachers leave their profession, analyzes the costs of recruitment and teacher replacement, and offers recommendations to help prevent educator turnover.

About 500,000 teachers move or leave the field entirely each year. High-poverty and urban schools experience a higher rate of turnover, with about 20 percent of teachers in these schools leaving each calendar year. This rate is roughly 50 percent higher than educator turnover in more affluent schools, according to the report.

The teaching profession faces a large shortage as Baby Boomers retire, and studies indicate that new teachers often leave the field in the first three years because they feel isolated and unsupported.

(Next page: States with the highest attrition costs)

In fact, the report cites research that says as much as 40 to 50 percent of new educators leave the profession after five years.

The report organizes teacher attrition costs by state and offers a high and low estimate of what attrition costs each state. Among the costliest attrition rates:

  • California; $81,960,046-$178,396,884
  • Florida; $61,392,667-$133,629,263
  • New York; $56,850,584-$123,742,617
  • Texas; $108,175,888-$235,459,133
  • Georgia; $37,485,313-$81,591,743

School organization and operation often contributes to the high teacher turnover rate. Teachers’ reasons for leaving include feeling isolated, student discipline problems, lack of administrative support, low salaries, and a low level of decision-making power.

The report points to research examining the link between new teachers’ support and their likelihood of leaving or moving to different positions. More states are implementing “induction support programs” that pair beginning teachers with experienced mentor teachers in an effort to help new teachers feel supported and less isolated.

While teacher effectiveness is a much-debated issue, the report includes policy recommendations for states, including:
• Require regular evaluations of teachers using multiple measures
• Develop systems to encourage high-quality educator development and teaching
• Require comprehensive induction programs for new teachers
• Embed analysis and improvement of teaching and learning conditions
• Support staff selection and professional growth systems that foster collegial collaboration

Richard Ingersoll, professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, worked with AEE to determine the national and state attrition costs.