A new draft report on Teacher Turnover/Attrition submitted to the legislature last week raises doubts about the assertion that teachers have been leaving North Carolina in droves for jobs in other states. Find out the new ways of calculating those who leave teaching here.
Key findings of the report
- Overall attrition rate for North Carolina is 9.04 percent. (Less than last year’s figure 14 percent. Yes, I know we shouldn’t be making a comparison, but changes in how the statistic is compiled matter)
- There are 95,549 teachers in North Carolina between March 2015 and March 2016. Off those teachers, 8,636 are no longer employed in North Carolina public or charter schools.
- The majority (53.3%) of teachers who left employment in NC public schools cited “Personal Reasons” for their decision to depart. Retirement with full benefits and family relocation were the largest individual reasons (19.8% and 12.6%, respectively) cited for teachers’ decision to leave employment in NC public schools.
Teasing out why teachers leave jobs is a difficult task. North Carolina is finding that out. This year’s report focused on attrition due to the many complaints with how turnover was calculated. Do policies made by the legislature matter? Especially noteworthy is the third bullet point which said in the majority (53 percent) of cases, personal reasons – not policy reasons – were the main reasons given for a decision to depart. Such findings run counter to the dominant narrative that teacher pay is driving teachers elsewhere. Decisions to leave teaching are frequently a result of many personal considerations; one of the reasons the previous turnover formula needed to be changed.
Let’s also remember: not all attrition is bad. All organizations want and need some turnover. Plus, some focus should be placed on the type of employee that is leaving. Is it a high quality or a low-quality employee? Obviously, the loss of each impacts an organization differently. Finding that healthy balance is the goal. Hopefully these changes help to answer that question.