National director shares teacher turnover stats

Retaining quality teachers is a national challenge. How big a challenge?

Consider these two numbers:

• In the next decade, 1.72 million teachers are slated to retire.

• Teacher turnover carries an annual national pricetag of $7 billion.

Those sobering statistics came from Michelle Exstrom, education program director with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver, who spoke to the Senate Education Committee Monday afternoon.

As Exstrom pointed out to the committee, states have considerable incentive to keep costly teacher turnover to a minimum. “This is a lot of money that can be better spent to improve learning.”

Some states have tried to address this problem with a variety of pay-based incentives – including bonuses and merit pay, and “differential pay” that rewards teachers hired into hard-to-fill positions. However, these approaches have been only marginally successful, Exstrom said.

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