Teacher resignations are on the rise—but aren’t much higher than in years past, a new survey from the EdWeek Research Center found.
The survey, which was conducted from July 27 through Aug. 8, asked 488 school and district leaders what percentage of their teachers left the profession by retiring or resigning “in the past year.” The typical, or median, respondent’s answer was 7 percent. When asked about percent of teachers who resigned or retired in 2019, the typical respondent said 5 percent.
The research center uses the median—the midpoint of the data—to avoid the impacts of extreme outliers that don’t represent the typical school district or school.
Large districts with an enrollment of 10,000 students or more saw a higher rate of resignations, reporting a median of 13.5 percent in 2022 over the 9.5 percent in 2019. Urban districts also saw higher resignation rates with a median of 10 percent compared to 8.5 percent in 2019.
Districts with more than 75 percent of the population being students of color reported a median of 10 percent of their teachers resigning or retiring compared to 5 percent for districts that are 90 percent or more white. The rate for districts with students of color was also up from 2019. During that year, the median resignation rate was 6.5 percent.
The data comes at a time when educators are shining a light on issues with hiring enough new teachers fueled by teacher frustrations with pay and working conditions, a dwindling supply of people entering the profession, and tough competition for available talent.
In a July survey, 59 percent of teachers told Education Week they would be more likely to remain in the profession if they had salary increases that exceed the increase in the cost of living. And some of the August survey respondents noted pay as a major reason for teachers leaving their districts.
“I feel that they keep talking about teacher shortages, yet nothing is being done to provide the incentive for teachers to stay, it seems quite the opposite, so much data, and having to prove your worth that you are being effective,” an elementary teacher from Connecticut wrote in the survey. “It is all very frustrating.”
Others worry that resignations and retirements ultimately impact students negatively. Studies show that staff vacancies can impact student achievement; students learn more when their teachers are less-frequently absent.
Over 50 percent of educators said student behavior is suffering because of staff shortages and 48 percent said student learning is suffering for the same reason, according to a May 2022 EdWeek survey.
“I feel that with the surge of teachers and administrators leaving our profession ... is concerning and negatively affects student achievement,” a district-level administrator from New Jersey wrote in the August survey. “Our district has suffered a great deal these last two months and we are unable to fill our teacher/administrator vacancies.”