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Money Pit: Teacher Turnover

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Recruiting a teacher is not just about accomplishing the hire, but about making an investment that can yield dividends or become a money pit when the teacher decides to part ways.

Districts spend money, mostly in overhead, recruiting, hiring, and developing teachers. When a teacher leaves the district, the cost to bring that teacher on board is now unutilized, but also duplicated in recruiting, hiring, and developing a replacement (in addition to any substitute teaching costs incurred in the interim).

Location Matters

When considering the cost of teacher turnover, location can make a big difference. Rural and urban areas will come with a vastly different price tag. Costs in urban areas far exceed those in rural and suburban districts. Yet, turnover has been seen to be more prevalent in these high-dollar urban areas.

Equity Loss

Many have attempted to quantify the cost of teacher turnover. Though a precise amount is challenging to determine, estimates across sources, like this What's the Cost of Teacher Turnover? article from Learning Policy Institute, tend to agree on the following financial costs of teacher turnover per person:

  • $9,000 for rural districts
  • $11,000 for suburban districts
  • $21,000 for urban districts

Closing The Deal

Teacher turnover is costly, and not to just the financial bottom line. So far, there are no solid solutions to this growing problem, but taking a look at these known strategies towards retention could help with current and future investments:

  • Competitive teacher pay
  • Referral bonuses/incentives
  • Mentorship of first-year teachers
  • Structured development program for all teachers
  • Campus leadership training

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