The Cost of Teacher Turnover


Because of my background in mental health education, I personally focus on the emotional costs of teachers leaving the classroom for good. The impact that this abrupt shift has on not only students, but teachers, administrators and districts as a whole. I know that student’s need stability and consistency – they need to feel that their teachers are vested in this future and are going to stick around through their struggles. As a professional whose sole purpose is to help build school communities that are psychologically safe and empowering, I understand that students need time to develop trust in the adults around them. They need time to feel them out, are you really here for me? Do you really think I can do this? Because of who I am at my core, I believe that the highest cost of teacher turnover…is that it impedes the development of such relationships, it stunts emotional and social growth- and encourages students to become disengaged.

Increasing demands for teachers to do more with less is part of the problem. Teachers feeling disrespected and not having a say in changes that are made regarding policies in education are another big piece. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If I focused on everything going wrong, I’d lose my mind…most of it I can’t directly change. Heck most of it I don’t even understand. So I stay in my lane, and my lane is helping school’s build emotionally intelligent communities that encourage growth in ALL areas academic.  Teacher quality has shown to be the most powerful school-based factor in student learning, more powerful than a student’s home environment.

When the business world thinks about turnover, they think about monetary cost. What does the cost of losing employees look like in dollars and cents? What does teacher turnover actually cost districts? With approximately half of educators leaving the classroom within their first 5 years of teaching, I imagined (hypothesis style) that this number would be relatively high. Wasn’t prepared for a number in the billions. Richard Ingersoll, a University of Pennsylvania professor who studies teacher turnover and retention finds that losing teachers costs school districts more than $2.2 billion dollars annually.


How does teacher turnover effect you personally as a new teacher in Detroit? Do you see the impact on your students? Campus? Community?