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The Cost Of Teacher Turnover

“The Cost Of Teacher Turnover In Five School Districts” by Gary Barnes, Edward Crown, Benjamin Schaefer for the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, (2007)

“Low performing schools rarely close the student achievement gap because the never close the teaching quality gap – they are constantly rebuilding their staff.  An inordinate amount of their capital – both human and financial- is consumed by the constant process of hiring and replacing beginning teachers who leave before they have mastered the ability to create a successful leaning culture for their students. NCTAF’s study quantified the real costs of teacher turnover in five school districts.  Teachers leave at-risk (low-income, high minority, low performing) schools at high rates. retention in these schools has the greatest potential for a high return on investment, both in terms of performance and school performance. The district studies were the Chicago Public Schools, Milwaukee Public Schools, and Granville NC County Schools, along with Jemez Valley Public Schools, and Santa Rosa (NM) represent a range of communities, large and small, urban and rural.

What the Study Found:

  1. 1.    In Granville, County, North Carolina, the cost of each district who left the district was just under $10,000.  In a small rural district such as Jemez Valley, NM the cost per teacher leaver was $4,366.  In Milwaukee, the average cost per teacher leaver was $15,325.  In a very large district like Chicago, the average cost was $17,872 per leaver. The total cost of turnover in the Chicago Public Schools is estimated to be over $86 million.
  2. 2.    Low school performance and high poverty were correlated with high teacher turnover in at-risk schools in cities like Chicago and Milwaukee.
  3. 3.    An up-front investment in retaining teachers can reducer teacher turnover, and thus reduce the costs associated with high teacher turnover.
  4. 4.    The cost of new teacher support an development have been proven to increase teacher retention and improve student achievement.  The costs of such programs could be offset by the savings achieved through decreases in the costs of turnover.
  5. 5.    Track teacher turnover and its costs annually.
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