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Teacher Turnover Before, During, & After COVID

In some places, teacher turnover dropped in 2020. But a closer look reveals a pressing need to make the teaching job more rewarding, collaborative, and sustainable.

Before COVID, the shortage of qualified, skilled teachers — especially in our lowest-income communities and hardest-to-staff roles — was among the top challenges facing education leaders. And with the stress of the pandemic, survey data showed that almost half of the public school teachers who left the profession since March 2020 cite COVID-19 as the main reason.

But as school systems ramp up hiring for next fall, concrete data on actual teacher turnover is scarce. To fill in that gap, ERS worked with six of our district partners — all large, urban districts, spread across the country — to understand their actual teacher turnover patterns in 2020.

New ERS analysis shows that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher turnover declined during 2020 in six districts we studied — however, this shouldn’t be taken at face value. A closer look reveals a deep, pressing need to make the teaching job more rewarding, collaborative, and sustainable. Check out Teacher Turnover Before, During, and After COVID for a deep dive into teacher attrition over the past year as we answer these three questions:

  1. What was overall teacher turnover going into the 2020 school year? How did this vary from prior years?
  2. Where turnover changed, which groups of teachers were more or less likely to leave than in prior years?
  3. Based on this analysis, how might district leaders shape teacher recruitment, development, and retention efforts as part of a cohesive plan for the 2021-22 school year — including through the potential application of federal stimulus funds?

Read the Executive Summary

Read the Paper

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