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Many teachers remain put despite stress: There is an uptick in teacher turnover

Teachers are working longer hours. They are more stressed. Many say they have considered quitting.

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Many teachers remain put despite stress: There is an uptick in teacher turnover

According to Chalkbeat's analysis of data from large schools districts and states, the majority of teachers have remained in their profession throughout the pandemic.

After COVID was first introduced to schools, teacher resignation rates dropped. The data showed that departures returned to pre-pandemic levels as the school year progressed.

These numbers together indicate that the feared exodus of teachers has not occurred yet -- though there are still concerns about the profession's health.

Gema Zamarro, an Arkansas researcher who studies teacher turnover, said that "I still worry." "Teachers feel stressed and burnt out. Even if they do not leave, it could still be a problem.

It is impossible to find comprehensive national data about teacher turnover. The federal government doesn't keep an annual record, nor do many states, including California. Other states, such as Texas, release data with a one-year lag.

Data from five states and 19 major U.S. school systems, including New York City, Houston and Texas, show that turnover in this school year was similar to the rates before the pandemic.

From 2011 to 2019, teacher attrition in Maryland hovered around 9% to 10%. According to state data, while it dropped to 7.3% in 2020, it rose to 9.3% for this school year.

Mohammed Choudhury (Maryland's state superintendent) stated that "our retention rates overall are maintaining steady." "It's not a broad-stroke, red alert type of concern."

Elsewhere in the country, turnover was slightly higher than usual, but still close to rates before the pandemic.

In Washington, 9.2% of teachers quit teaching in public schools within the year that preceded the pandemic. According to new state data analysis, this number rose to 10% in 2021.

The turnover figures for recent years were comparable to those of South Carolina, Massachusetts, and Hawaii before the pandemic. This was also true for a number large school districts including Dallas, Houston and Clark County in Nevada, home to Las Vegas. However, Detroit and Chicago saw larger increases.

About 6% of New York City's teachers were forced to leave the district each year prior to the pandemic. Turnover fell after the pandemic, but then rose to 5.8% in 2021.

The teacher turnover rate in Philadelphia schools was 9.3% in 2021. This was slightly higher than 2020, but still lower than 2019.

"2021 -- It doesn't seem worse than it did before the pandemic." It looks more like other years, said Zamarro who reviewed data from Chalkbeat.

According to survey data, more teachers considered leaving the classroom in the midst of the pandemic than they did before. The National Education Association, which is the largest teacher union in the country, conducted a poll and found that over half of its members believed the pandemic would make it more likely they would quit the profession.

Tom Keiser is a Missoula, Montana middle school math teacher who has considered quitting. Concerned by the bitter local debates about masks, and the rise in laws that restrict teaching about racism, he's also been concerned about the rising number of teachers who have considered quitting.

Keiser also consulted friends who had recently retired from teaching, and briefly searched a job-search site. He ultimately decided to stay.

"What would you do?" He said, "How the hell would I figure that out?" "I have worked 12 years trying to improve my job."

Keiser is not the only one who contemplates leaving teaching. Most teachers end up staying put because it means they have to change their career path and give up their retirement benefits. A recent survey found that only a third of teachers said they would leave teaching the next school year. This was before the pandemic.

Teachers' exits are also affected by the economy. A new study found that teacher turnover dropped by a percentage point across 14 states in 2020. Researchers who examined turnover in Washington state found that this likely indicates teachers' willingness to work hard in the face of uncertainty.

However, the economic and pandemic environment have changed and it is not clear what this will mean for turnover going forward.

Kathleen Sannicks, an experienced elementary school teacher from Philadelphia, found this school year so difficult that she took a sabbatical. It was difficult to ensure students kept their masks on and to substitute for colleagues in an environment where resources and morale were low.

She said, "It's been very, very difficult for us to do the work we are required to do without having the support and tools we need." "I was done. "I throw in the towel."

Although teachers leaving Philadelphia at the end of the year are on the rise, they remain uncommon in Philadelphia.

Even small increases could cause concern. Research shows that teacher turnover is associated with lower test scores, especially if it occurs in the middle school year. High-poverty schools have higher quit rates.

Schools are not equipped to handle additional departures. This year has been particularly difficult for schools to find substitute teachers and bus drivers, as well as difficulties in recruiting new teachers.

No matter whether teachers leave or not, the stress they experience is still important -- for their students, schools, and the future of their profession. High school and college students have been losing interest in teaching for many years. Dissatisfied teachers may discourage potential educators from entering the classroom.

Choudhury of Maryland said that the state recently ran an advertisement campaign to encourage high-achieving high school students interested in teaching.

He said, "Not many are biting."

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