Published: March 9, 2007

Stat of the Week — March 9, 2007

Teacher Attrition Rate on the Rise

The National Center for Education Statistics, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Education, recently released a report with findings regarding teacher attrition and mobility gleaned from the Teacher Follow-up Surveys (TFS) conducted five times between 1988-89 and 2004-05. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader The TFS samples elementary and secondary school teachers in grades K-12 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia as a follow-up to the previous year’s Schools and Staffing Survey. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader The NCES report includes longitudinal attrition data for teachers from the 1988-89 to the 2004-05 school year. This Stat of the Week looks at public school teachers who left the profession, referred to as teacher leavers.

Reasons for Leaving Rated as Very or Extremely Important: 2004-05

*Click image to view the full chart.

During the 1988-99 school year, there were 2,386,500 public school teachers who taught in grades K-12. Among them, 132,300 teachers, or 5.6 percent, left the teaching profession for various reasons. Although the percentage of public school teacher leavers declined slightly in the 1991-92 school year, the percentage rose each subsequent year that the survey was conducted. In the 2004-05 school year, 269,600 public school teachers, or 8.4 percent, left teaching. The accompanying chart depicts the teacher attrition trend from 1998 to 2005.

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The report also investigates the reasons why teachers leave the profession. Among those teachers who left in the 2003-04 school year, the reasons most often cited as very or extremely important were: retirement (31 percent), to pursue a position other than that of a K-12 teacher (25 percent), other family or personal reasons (20 percent), pregnancy or child rearing (19 percent), dissatisfied with previous school or teaching assignment (16 percent), dissatisfied with teaching as a career (15 percent), and school staffing action (15 percent). Better salary or benefits was chosen by 14 percent.


For more detailed information on state education policies about teacher recruitment, retention, salaries, or professional development and mentoring, visit our Education Counts database.

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