NEWS RELEASES 2016-17 :: November 2, 2016

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About 9 percent of North Carolina teachers were counted as leaving employment in the state’s public schools during the 2015-2016 school year, according to a report (pdf, 1mb) presented today to the State Board of Education.

The 2015-2016 State of the Teaching Profession in North Carolina report provides a more detailed analysis of shifts in the state’s teaching force than the annual teacher turnover report that it replaces. Instead of a single “turnover” percentage combining attrition from North Carolina classrooms with departures from one school district to another in the state, the new report separates attrition from teaching jobs in the state from “mobility,” a measure the report defines as the loss of teachers from one district to another or to a charter school.

The board will vote next month on the report, which was presented today in draft form.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said the overhauled report will help support the state’s ongoing efforts to build a more stable and highly effective teaching force.

“The more detailed information provided in the new report will assist local and state school leaders in making the best decisions about recruiting, retaining and developing the highly effective teachers that North Carolina’s students need and deserve,” Atkinson said.

For any given school district, the combined effect of attrition from public school employment and the mobility of teachers across districts is a loss of classroom personnel requiring replacement teachers – from other districts, other states or from the pool of new teacher graduates.

Because of differences in how the report accounts for teachers, results from the 2015-2016 report cannot be compared to prior year reports in a meaningful way. Differences in employment trends between the 2015-2016 report and prior years are not comparable and should not be attributed to any programs or policies implemented in previous years.

Among the key findings in the report:

  • Most teachers who left employment in North Carolina’s public schools (53.3 percent) cited “personal reasons” for their decision. Within that category, retirement with full benefits and family relocation were the largest individual reasons (19.8 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively).
  • The attrition rate for beginning teachers (less than three years), is substantially higher than the attrition rate for those not counted as beginning teachers – 12.78 percent vs. 8.19 percent.
  • Based on reporting from 100 of North Carolina’s 115 school districts, the five hardest-to-fill license areas are math (middle and high school), exceptional children’s education – general curriculum, and science (middle and high school).
  • Total attrition from the state’s 115 school districts (attrition plus mobility) ranged from 35.02 percent in Halifax County to 5.26 percent in Avery County.

The new report also relies less on self-reported data shared during exit interviews and instead tracks actual payroll information. For example, a teacher leaving one district may say during an exit interview that they plan to quit teaching but be counted in the following year on another district’s teacher roster. In previous reports, the teacher’s self-reported plan would have been used as the only source of data. In addition, the report does not include in the overall attrition percentage those teachers who leave the classroom for an education-related position in the public schools, as a principal, for example, or another administrative role.

Other changes in the report help to make it a more useful tool for local school leaders and state policymakers. Among them:

  • A “recoupment rate” is reported for each school district, showing their ability to capitalize on teacher mobility within the state by attracting teachers from other districts. High rates indicate a district is attractive; low rates pose challenges to districts as another obstacle to maintaining a strong and experienced teaching force.
  • Teacher attrition is analyzed according to effectiveness, as measured by evaluations and gains in student test scores. On average, teachers who leave employment with the state have lower teaching effectiveness than their counterparts who remain employed in the state’s public schools. About 70 percent of the state's evaluated teachers have a growth rating. The report recommends that research into this area may provide insight into how administrators can encourage teachers to grow and improve while simultaneously encouraging them to remain employed in their school, district and state.

Go here (pdf, 1mb) for the full report, including district-level data.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.