Recruitment & Retention What the Research Says

Eliminating High-Stakes Testing May Not Lessen Most Teacher Turnover

By Madeline Will — February 25, 2020 1 min read

For many teachers, high-stakes testing is a major source of frustration—but they’re not necessarily quitting over it.

A new study finds ousting state testing had no effect on overall teacher turnover and attrition, though it may encourage early-career teachers to stay in the profession.

The working paper, published by the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, analyzed the effects of changes in mandated state testing in Georgia. For eight years, all students in grades 1 to 8 were tested in reading, English/language arts, and math, and students in grades 3 to 8 also took tests in science and social studies. But starting in 2011, grade 3-8 students are tested in English/language arts and math, and only students in grades 5 and 8 take science and social studies tests.

The study found removing statewide tests had no effect on the likelihood of teachers changing schools within a district, moving between districts, or quitting altogether. There is one meaningful exception: Teachers with fewer than five years of experience were less likely to leave the profession when there were fewer testing requirements. For new teachers, the likelihood of leaving fell from 14 to 13 percentage points for teachers in grades 1 and 2, and from 14 to 11 percentage points in grades 6 and 7, the study found.

A version of this article appeared in the February 26, 2020 edition of Education Week as Eliminating High-Stakes Testing May Not Lessen Most Teacher Turnover

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