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THE HIGH COST OF TEACHER TURNOVER: New Analysis Pegs National Cost of Teacher Turnover at $7.3 Billion

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“We want to help school leaders identify the problem so that they will be in a better position to manage their resources to reduce teacher turnover and improve teacher quality.”

Teacher turnover costs the nation over $7.3 billion annually, draining resources, diminishing teacher quality, and undermining the nation’s ability to close the student achievement gap. So says a new analysis by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF). The analysis is based on an eighteen-month pilot study that NCTAF completed in five school districts: Chicago, Granville, NC, Jemez Valley, NM, Milwaukee, and Santa Rosa, NM.

“This is a good news/bad news story,” said NCTAF President Tom Carroll. “We want to help school leaders identify the problem so that they will be in a better position to manage their resources to reduce teacher turnover and improve teacher quality.”

According to a policy brief released in conjunction with the analysis, the teacher turnover rate has risen to 16.8 percent nationwide and is over 20 percent in urban areas. In some areas, the brief notes, the teacher dropout rate is actually higher than the student dropout rate. It also finds that the teacher turnover problem is most severe in the nation’s high-minority, high-poverty, and low-performing schools.

To help stem the tide of teachers leaving the profession, NCTAF suggests that schools and districts invest in comprehensive induction programs for new teachers. It notes that 46 percent of all new teachers leave the profession within five years, and that the cost of such a program could be offset by the savings achieved through decreasing teacher turnover.

NCTAF also suggests that comprehensive retention strategies be targeted to at-risk schools and that districts upgrade data systems in order to analyze teacher turnover and its costs. Finally, it suggests that NCLB be amended so that each local and state education agency would be required to publicly report the distribution of qualified teachers, the average years of teaching experience in each school, the annual rate of teacher and principal attrition, and the cost of that attrition for each school in the district.

Additional information on the pilot study and the policy brief is available athttp://www.nctaf.org/resources/demonstration_projects/turnover/TeacherTurnoverCostStudy.htm.

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