Teacher attrition is rising, but hiring continues to stall out

ESSER funds have contributed to 66% of job openings since the height of the pandemic in 2020. Yet, successful hiring efforts have only risen by 38%. Districts are creating jobs faster than they can fill them. And most of all, teachers are unhappy.

To this day, many schools are still picking up the pieces in the aftermath of the pandemic. Nearly 50% of students across all public schools started this school year one grade level behind. Almost 60% of all public schools have implemented professional development specifically on learning recovery. And 85% of all public schools have encouraged staff to address students’ social, emotional and mental health. The numbers speak for themselves.

That’s according to the latest School Pulse Panel data from the Institute of Education Sciences. Each of these issues carries its own individual weight, but they all contribute to an overarching issue that nearly every school is dealing with: teacher recruitment and retention.

Nearly one-third of K12 teachers are considering leaving their jobs, according to new research by McKinsey and Company, a management consulting company.

“That equates to roughly 900,000 teachers across the nation,” the research reads. “While this state intention to leave has historically not planned out, it suggests an unhealthiness to the profession that administrators should be mindful of.”

Attrition is rising, but districts can’t keep up the pace with hiring

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, school districts saw the highest annual rate of teacher attrition. For state and local employees, attrition rose by 20%. Between 2021 and 2022, attrition rose another 17% and “is on track to outpace pre-pandemic monthly averages if current trends continue,” the research reads.

However, it’s getting difficult for districts to fill the jobs they’re creating. According to a recent McKinsey survey of school administrators, 61% of respondents said they’re having difficulties hiring school personnel, including teachers.

“This trend is set to worsen given recent declines (roughly one-third since 2008) in the number of college students entering and completing teacher education programs and traditional teacher preparation programs,” the research says.

Additionally, districts are simply creating new jobs faster than they can hire people to fill them. Since 2020, ESSER funds have contributed to a 66% increase in job openings. Yet, successful hires have only risen by 38%.

“Districts will likely use their remaining ESSER funds—which must be obligated by September 2024—to increase staff capacity to support learning and mental health needs,” according to the research. “But without structural changes, it could be difficult to mount the sustainable funding needed to maintain staffing levels.”

Recommendations for leaders

Teacher recruitment and retention is nothing new for administrators and superintendents. But understanding exactly why teachers are unhappy might be. Here are the most influential factors driving both educators’ choices to leave and to stay:

Why teachers are leaving

  • Compensation
    • Plan to leave (48%)
    • Left (42%)
  • Expectations
    • Plan to leave (33%)
    • Left (31%)
  • Well-being
    • Plan to leave (31%)
    • Left (23%)
  • Leadership
    • Plan to leave (30%)
    • Left (31%)
  • Workplace flexibility
    • Plan to leave (26%)
    • Left (21%)

Why teachers are staying

  • Meaningful work (58%)
  • Colleagues (39%)
  • Compensation (34%)
  • Geography (28%)
  • Community (27%)

“K12 schools in the United States are facing talent challenges that have been building for years and that were exacerbated by the pandemic,” according to the research. “The longer they go unaddressed, however, the more potential damage they could cause to students and the future of the nation.”

More from DA: Layoffs are now entering the K12 picture as leaders face major budget deficits

Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttps://districtadministration.com
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

Most Popular