Teacher turnover is down in North Carolina, and that is a good thing. High teacher turnover can cause friction in the education system and lower educational efficiency. JLF’s Dr. Terry Stoops shares the past 5 years’ attrition rates in his recent research brief:

Statewide Teacher Attrition Rate, 2016–2020

School Year Attrition Rate
2015-16 9.04%
2016-17 8.70%
2017-18 8.09%
2018-19 7.59%
2019-20 prelim. 7.53%

Dr. Stoops analyzes the reasons for teacher resignations:

Of the 7,111 public school teachers who resigned last year, 28% reported that they retired with partial or full benefits. Nearly 24% of teachers resigned because they were dissatisfied with teaching, desired a career change, or accepted a position in another state. Those who resigned due to family responsibilities or relocation accounted for another 18.5% of the total. Very few school districts compel educators to leave the profession. Only a few hundred teachers are dismissed or not hired after their probationary or interim contract expires.

Teacher turnover is not evenly spread across the state. Some areas have much higher attrition than others. Stoops writes:

Northampton’s 21.8% attrition rate was the highest in the state. In contrast, districts in the western region have negligible turnover. Mitchell County Schools had the lowest attrition rate in the state, with just 2.9% leaving the district during the school year. 

What effect could COVID-19 have on attrition rates? Dr. Stoops does not project a significant negative impact. He writes:

I do not expect attrition rates to spike next year. While the migration to remote learning and the difficulties associated with it are not ideal, the inhospitable labor market produced by the Cooper-ordered shutdowns likely deterred teachers from pursuing employment in another sector. Moreover, the Republican-led General Assembly approved legislation that held school district finances harmless for the current year, thereby ensuring that districts would have the resources necessary to retain teachers that might have otherwise been laid off due to revenue losses from declining enrollment.

Read the full brief here. Read more coverage of teacher attrition rates in Carolina Journal here.