Teacher Turnover in Kentucky Public Schools

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The Cost of Teacher Turnover

Teacher turnover is Costly to individual states, and the nation as a whole. An issue brief by the Alliance for Excellent Education released in August 2005 titled, "Teacher Attrition: A Costly Loss to the Nation" pointed out the following facts about teacher turnover:

  • Every school day, nearly a thousand teachers leave the field of teaching.
  • Another thousand teachers change schools, many in pursuit of better working conditions not including teachers who retire.
  • The exit of teachers from the profession and the movement of teachers to better schools are costly phenomena, both for the students, who lose the value of being taught by an experienced teacher, and to the schools and districts, which must recruit and train their replacements.
  • A conservative national estimate of the cost of replacing public school teachers who have dropped out of the profession is $2.2 billion a year. If the cost of replacing public school teachers who transfer schools is added, the total reaches $4.9 billion every year.
  • For individual states, cost estimates range from $8.5 million in North Dakota to a whopping half a billion dollars for a large state like Texas.
  • Many analysts believe that the price tag is even higher; hiring costs vary by district and sometimes include signing bonuses, subject matter stipends, and other recruiting costs specific to hard-to-staff schools. Others believe that the cost of the loss in teacher quality and student achievement should also be added to the bill.

There is a growing consensus among researchers and educators that the single most important factor in determining student performance is the quality of his or her teachers. Therefore, if the national goal of providing an equitable education to children across the nation is to be met, it is critical that efforts be concentrated on developing and retaining high-quality teachers in every community and at every grade level.

The Council of State Governments also notes that Nationwide, one third of new teachers leave the classroom within five years, and in some urban areas, teacher turnover averages 50 percent within three years.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the "2008 Condition of Education" report that teacher turnover is higher in high-poverty than in low-poverty public schools.

Reasons for Teacher Turnover

  • Many assume that retirement is the primary reason for teacher attrition, but when the facts are examined closely, it becomes clear that the number of teachers retiring from the profession is not a leading cause. In an analysis of teacher turnover, teachers reported retirement as a reason for leaving less often than because of job dissatisfaction or to pursue another job.
  • Among teachers who transferred schools, 65% cited lack of planning time; 60 percent cited a heavy workload; 53% complained of problematic student behavior; and 52% cited a lack of influence over school policy.
  • Some teachers leave for personal reasons such as to care for family or children.
  • A relatively small number are dismissed from their jobs and encouraged to leave the profession.
  • Nearly half of all teachers who enter the field leave it within a mere five years and the best and brightest teachers are often the first to leave.
  • Some teachers cite a lack of support and poor working conditions among the primary factors.
  • In the 2004–05 MetLife “Survey of the American Teacher,” new teachers reported being greatly stressed by administrative duties, classroom management, and testing responsibilities, as well as by their relationships (or lack thereof) with parents.

It remains a question to ponder why teachers, particularly those who have taught for only a few years,leave the classrooms they worked so hard to enter.

In Kentucky

The numbers in the table below show the costs of teacher turnover in Kentucky and the United States as a whole. These numbers have been extracted from an issue brief by the Alliance for Excellent Education released in August 2005 titled, "Teacher Attrition: A Costly Loss to the Nation".

Total # Teachers # Leaving profession Cost of teachers who leave profession # Transferring to other schools Cost of transfer teachers Total turnover cost less retirement
KY 42,842 1,650 $18,010,556 4,080 $44,526,937 $62,537,479
U.S 2,998,795 173,439 $2,158,074,356 220,700 2,709,805,493 $4,867,879,421


Many initiatives have been implemented and are currently in place for the recruitment and retention of special education teachers in Kentucky because the special education teacher turnover is the greatest among all of the educators, according to the Kentucky Department of Education.

See Also

FreedomKentucky's education Portal