- Measuring turnover among early-career teachers on a monthly basis instead of annually, a new study finds that 6% of novice teachers leave their positions during the school year, creating instability for students and school leaders.
- Conducted by researchers at the University of Florida and Vanderbilt University, the analysis focuses on a sample of 13,665 teachers in North Carolina over their first three years on the job. Eight percent of first-year teachers leave mid-year, which the researchers write is “important because within-year turnover is more disruptive and appears to have more detrimental effects on student achievement.”
- Those who attended traditional, in-state teacher preparation programs were most likely to change schools but least likely to leave the profession. Those who entered teaching through an alternative pathway, prepared out of state or were part of Teach for America were more likely to leave teaching in the middle and at the end of the school year.
With many districts still seeking to fill positions for the new school year, the last thing a principal wants is to have to replace a teacher in the middle of the school year. The study finds that this pattern is more likely to affect schools with a large percentage of minority students. By the end of their second year, more than half of teachers in schools with the fewest students of color remain in their schools, but in schools with the most minority students, only 44% of new teachers are still there after the first year.
The researchers also found that an increase in scores on the “principal leadership scale” is associated with a lower risk of turnover, confirming past research showing that school leadership has a strong impact on a teacher’s decision to stay. The study “indicates that alternate entry and out-of-state teachers do fill teaching positions in low-performing schools but also leave teaching at much higher rates than traditionally prepared teachers,” the authors write, but add that “supportive principals can promote the retention of these and teachers from other pathways.”