A report from Chalkbeat found that while public narrative during the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed teachers are leaving the profession in droves, data suggests numbers are in-line with those pre-pandemic.
It is no secret that school systems throughout the country are being pushed to their brinks during the COVID-19 pandemic and that school staff burnout is at an all-time high. Despite this, a recent study from Chalkbeat found that “the vast majority of teachers have stayed in the profession throughout the pandemic…” and, “Teacher resignation rates actually dipped after COVID first hit schools. As this school year approached, the data show, departures generally returned to pre-pandemic levels.”
Chalkbeat looked at data from five states and 19 large U.S. school districts, including Maryland. The data shows that “turnover going into this school year was comparable to rates before the pandemic.”
According to the study:
In Maryland, teacher attrition hovered between 9% and 10% from 2011 to 2019. In 2020, it fell to 7.3%, but it ticked back up to 9.3% ahead of this school year, according to data provided by state officials.
“Our retention rates overall are holding steady,” said Mohammed Choudhury, Maryland’s state superintendent. “It is not some kind of broad-stroke, red-alert type of concern.”
The report also emphasized, however, that despite lower turnover rates than assumed, there still exists many challenges for hiring and retention of school staff:
Even small increases in turnover could be worrying. Research has linked teacher churn to lower test scores, particularly if it happens in the middle of the school year, and high-poverty schools tend to see higher quit rates.
Schools also aren’t in a position to handle more departures. Schools have had a particularly hard time finding substitute teachers and bus drivers this year, and some have struggled to recruit new teachers.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization covering issues in education around the country.