Roughly half a million U.S. teachers either move or leave the profession each year, attrition that costs the United States up to $2.2 billion annually, according to a report from the Alliance for Excellent Education. In Michigan, the cost is estimated to be as high as $59.4 million.
Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, said the high turnover rate disproportionately affects high-poverty schools.
“Teacher attrition hits states and school districts in the wallet, but students and teachers pay the real price,” Wise said. “The monetary cost of teacher attrition pales in comparison to the loss of human potential associated with hard-to-staff schools that disproportionately serve low-income students and students of color. In these schools, poor learning climates and low achievement often result in students — and teachers — leaving in droves.”
To calculate the cost of teacher attrition, the alliance worked with Richard Ingersoll, professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to the national figure, Ingersoll also provides cost estimates for all 50 states and the District of Columbia that range between about $2 million in Delaware, Vermont, and Wyoming and up to $235 million in Texas.
The report says teachers leave their profession for a variety of reasons, including inadequate administrative support, isolated working conditions, poor student discipline, low salaries and a lack of collective teacher influence over schoolwide decisions.
Turnover is especially high among new teachers, with 40 to 50 percent leaving the profession after five years, according to research cited in the report.