The trouble with teacher turnover: How teacher attrition affects students and schools


  • Desiree Carver-Thomas Learning Policy Institute
  • Linda Darling-Hammond Learning Policy Institute



teacher turnover, attrition, teaching conditions, administrative support, compensation


Addressing teacher turnover is critical to stemming the country's continuing teacher shortages. It is also important for school effectiveness, as the academic and financial costs of teacher turnover to student learning and district budgets are significant. Using the most recent nationally representative data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Schools and Staffing Surveys, the authors detail which teachers are leaving, why, and which students are most impacted. The study finds higher turnover rates in the South; among mathematics, science, special education, English language development, and world languages teachers; in schools serving students of color and from low-income families; and among teachers of color. The study also finds that several factors are associated with higher turnover rates, including lack of administrative support, teacher salaries, and alternative certification. The paper reviews policy strategies that can address teacher turnover.


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Author Biographies

Desiree Carver-Thomas, Learning Policy Institute

Desiree Carver-Thomas is a Research and Policy Associate on LPI’s Educator Quality Team. She is the lead author of Addressing California’s Growing Teacher Shortage: 2017 Update and Teacher Turnover: Why it Matters and What we can Do about It. Previously, she taught in New York City public schools, and consulted on strategies for diverting recidivism and implementing a full-service community schools initiative.

Linda Darling-Hammond, Learning Policy Institute

Linda Darling-Hammond is President of the Learning Policy Institute and Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University. She was principal investigator for the team that designed the federal Schools and Staffing Surveys and has conducted extensive research on issues of educator supply, demand, and quality. Among her award-winning publications in this area are the 1996 report of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future; Teaching as the Learning Profession; and Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do.




How to Cite

Carver-Thomas, D., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2019). The trouble with teacher turnover: How teacher attrition affects students and schools. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27, 36.



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