There’s More To Those Teacher Attrition Rates – Look At Recurring Vacancies And Fewer Teacher Candidates

Just yesterday, Greg Childress of NC Policy Watch posted the weekly “Monday’s Numbers” segment highlighting teacher attrition rates reported in the “Annual Report on the State of the Teaching Profession.


Childress states,

“The report shows a teacher turnover rate of 7.5 percent for the 2018-19 school year. The rate was 8.09 percent the previous year and 8.70 for the 2016-17 school year. 

The national teacher attrition rate is around 8 percent, according to federal labor and education departments.” 

And before a bunch of reform-minded lawmakers jump on the conclusion that it means more and more teachers are staying in the profession because so many things have “improved,” it might be worth looking under the hood and see what really might be happening.

The “Annual Report on the State of the Teaching Profession” for 2020 that will presented to the State Board this week.


The very first slide shows the attrition rates for the last three school years.


Yet, look at who is leaving the profession (or NC’s ranks) in greater numbers.


The rates of teachers at year 28, 29, and 30 going into retirement is rather surprising. Yes, a teacher now can retire after 30 years of service with full pension and as of now health benefits. But look at the number of teachers who are leaving right before 30 years. That’s telling. They are using accrued sick days to account for time in the classroom (perfectly legal). What that may mean is that veteran teachers who could remain in the classroom for many more years are choosing to retire at the very first possibility. Considering that most career teachers who retire from the profession at 30 years are still in their 50’s, that’s even more telling.

That speaks to the lack of respect that veteran teachers have received in the past ten years in NC.

Next look at the attrition by “Teacher Categories.” Those teachers who came through alternate paths to become teachers (TFA, VIF, lateral) left at much higher rates than those who received licensing through traditional educator programs.

Couple that with the continuing trend of fewer potential teachers entering those teacher educator programs here in NC and you see something more disturbing: the very avenue that provides more of those who stay in the teaching profession longer is not being  traveled as much.

parmenter graphic 2 take 2 jpeg

parmenter graphic 1 take 2 jpeg

That’s not good.

And then there is another data point that seems to be ignored but has an incredible amount of power: RECURRING TEACHING POSITION VACANCIES.

Funny how a state can’t have attrition for positions that were not filled in the first place. Kris Nordstrom posted the following tweet yesterday. It’s a compilation of  vacancies in the last three years – the same years whose attrition rates were reported in the “Annual Report on the State of the Teaching Profession.”


That’s a lot of vacancies.

With the same reform-minded lawmakers who are touting a great economy with growth and job opportunities, these vacancy data points do not speak well for how well public education is being treated.

Those same lawmakers need to be voted out.