Finding Opportunities in Teacher Turnover and Mobility

A longstanding belief that 40-50% of new teachers leave the profession within five years has been displaced by new research that puts the percentage far lower. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a report in April called Public School Teacher Attrition in the First Five Years. The NCES report puts the number at 17% and is based on a longitudinal study of new teachers from 2007 to 2012.

Some of the research highlights include:

Starting salaries make a difference:
  • 97% of new teachers returned for Year 2 when their salary was at least $40,000.
  • 87% of new teachers returned for Year 2 when their salary was below $40,000.
  • 89% of teachers who made $40,000 in Year 1 were still teaching in Year 5.
  • 80% of teachers who made less than $40,000 in Year 1 still taught in Year 5.
Having a mentor makes a difference:
  • 92% of teachers assigned a mentor in Year 1 returned for Year 2, and 86% of them were still teaching in Year 5.
  • 84% of teachers without mentors returned for Year 2 and only 71% of them remained in Year 5.
Ethnicity makes a difference:
  • 15% turnover among white, non-Hispanic teachers: 7.5% leave; 7.5% move.
  • 8% turnover for African-American teachers: 10.1% leave; 11.7% move.
  • 6% turnover for Hispanic teachers: 8.0% leave; 12.6% move.
Schools’ economic status makes a difference:
  • 22% teacher turnover in schools with 75% free/reduced lunch (FRL).
  • 13% teacher turnover in schools with the lowest FRL rates.
Breakdown of teacher movement:
  • During Year 2, 74% teachers taught in the same school (stayers); 16% taught in different schools (movers); and 10% were not teaching.
  • During Year 5, 70% taught in the same school (stayers); 10% taught in a different school (movers); and 17% were not teaching.

There is a cost to all this transition, of course. As much of a challenge as it is for districts to manage teacher turnover, there are opportunities for education companies in the following areas:

  • Pre-service training
  • Mentorship or coaching programs
  • Ongoing professional development for teachers
  • Leadership training for principals.

Providing products and services to districts trying to stabilize their teacher population can deliver a great return on investment and help districts minimize their financial losses.

Marketers will also want to keep track of the 10%-16% of teachers who are moving to new schools each year. New-to-the-school teachers often require new products as they often change grades or even districts when they move.

This new research resets our thinking about the attrition rate of new teachers. Instead of the widespread belief that almost 50% leave in the first five years, this longitudinal study shows a consistency of turnover and mobility since 2004-2005. And our understanding that new teachers are staying in the profession at much higher rates than previously believed, is good news for education sales.