RALEIGH — The latest State of the Teaching Profession report presented to the State Board of Education shows the teacher attrition rate in the state mostly remained steady during the 2021-22 school year.
The report showed the teacher attrition rate, also referred to as the teacher turnover rate, came in at 7.78% for the 12-month period of March 2021 to March 2022. That’s a drop of .4% over the previous pre-pandemic year’s reported 8.2% rate.
“It’s a positive sign that last year’s attrition rate for the state was about on par with what it was before the pandemic,” State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said in a press release. “It indicates that things are stabilizing following a tremendous period of uncertainty in the 2020-21 school year.”
According to the report, before the pandemic the teacher turnover rate had declined from 9% in 2015-16 down to 7.5% in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
The report notes 3,103 teachers left for various personal reasons, 393 were terminated by districts, 1,369 were listed as leaving “beyond the control” of the local districts, around 2,400 left for “other reasons” and 507 left to teach in another state.
Visiting International Faculty (VIF) and Teach for America (TFA) teachers had the highest attrition rates across all teacher categories. Of the total 510 VIF teachers, overall attrition was 88.7% and 85.5% left before their contract was up. Of TFA’s 257 teachers, the overall attrition rate was just over 25% with nearly 23% leaving before the end of their contract.
Of the 93,832 public school teachers employed last year, around 7,298 were no longer employed in March 2022. That number is lower than the 7,735 teachers that left state employment in the 12 months prior.
The Northampton School district continued to have the highest turnover rate for the third year in a row with 18.92%. During the 2020-21 school year, the district’s turnover rate was 26.1%. Northampton also had the highest turnover rate in 2010-20 with 28.1%.
The report cites 3,208 teachers remained in the state by teaching in another district; an increase of 316 over the 2020-21 school year. Teachers transferring from one district to another is called “mobility” and was what attributed to some districts reporting high rates of attrition.
“On average, 3.31% of the state’s teachers changed districts during the same 12-month period, resulting in an average district-level departure rate of about 11%. Yet some districts were reported to have combined attrition rates (including transfers to other districts) above 25%,” NCPDI’s press release says.
“It doesn’t reflect an exodus of teachers from the profession,” Truitt said of the staffing issues created by a combination of attrition and mobility. “But when you take into account that districts must replace the teachers moving to other districts, that often presents a real challenge, especially when districts must find replacement teachers with the right credentials, right experience and the right background.”
Truitt says the proposed Pathways to Excellence initiative that seeks to revamp state licensure and compensates teachers will help with attrition rates, in particular with first-year teachers, through higher pay and more opportunity.
“It’s imperative that we provide more support for our beginning teachers,” Truitt said. “We have known that the licensure system in place right now does not consistently provide the level of support to those first-, second- and third-year teachers and this data is the latest proof of that. The licensure and compensation reform plan that we’re proposing would help remedy this by building in systems of support for beginning teachers early in their careers and would continue systematically throughout.”
Retirements during 2021-22 also declined over the previous school year. 1,114 teachers retired with full benefits last year compared to 1,522 in 2020-21.
The report’s vacancy data for the 2022-23 school year was revised after release. The vacancy report covers positions filled by individuals not eligible for permanent employment, including long-term substitutes, retired teachers or provisionally licensed teachers.
As of the first day of the 2022-23 school year, there were roughly 5,540 vacancies compared to 3,792 the previous year. On the 40th day of the 2022-23 year, there were around 5,091 vacancies compared to 3,243 day 40 numbers during the previous school year.
According to NCDPI, longer term staffing needs of schools could be impacted by declining enrollments in the state’s four-year and alternative education preparation programs.
Enrollments in education prep programs in 2022 dropped from a combined 8,498 candidates in 2021 to 4,941 in 2022. Four-year programs saw at 50% drop off with first-year enrollments declining from 5,545 to 2,478.