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Teacher Turnover Up: 1 In 8 NC Teachers Left Jobs

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The rate of North Carolina teachers leaving their classroom jobs increased slightly last year to nearly one out of eight, but only about 7 percent of those reported leaving because of a career change or because they were dissatisfied with teaching.


An annual report received by the state Board of Education on Thursday shows that about 11,791 of the 97,184 teachers employed in the state's 115 school systems left last year. The turnover rate of 12 percent was a slight increase from 11 percent the previous school year.


Retirement was the biggest reason for turnover of those teaching in the state's nearly 1.5 million public school students, representing 21 percent of the departures. Another 18 percent of teachers said they resigned to teach elsewhere. Of those moving to another teaching spot, more than nine out of 10 moved in North Carolina or to another state and the rest to private or charter schools.


Less than 1 percent said they were resigning because they were fed up with the classroom environment. Another 6 percent left teaching in a career change, the report said.


A separate teacher working condition survey by the state's Department of Public Instruction administers every other year found this spring that 85 percent agreed that their school, overall, "is a good place to work and learn."


"It says to me that the teachers that we have in our schools are really dedicated to the profession of teaching," state schools superintendent June Atkinson said of the two reports. "That's why we need to continue to give them the necessary support through good professional development, through good working conditions, through adequate compensation, in order to grow our profession."


The working conditions survey doesn't ask teachers their level of job satisfaction or dissatisfaction, and the turnover report doesn't indicate how the teachers still on the job feel.


The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, conducted annually since 1984 by Harris Interactive, found earlier this year that job satisfaction nationwide has dropped sharply since 2009 in the face of layoffs. Teachers who were very satisfied dropped to 44 percent, the lowest level in more than 20 years. Teachers who said they are very likely or fairly likely to leave the profession increased from 17 percent to 29 percent since 2009.


North Carolina legislators have cut nearly $800 million in the past two years from the budgets of school districts, but left it up to the districts to decide where to cut. School administrators have said they've found it increasingly difficult to make the cuts without eliminating classroom workers.


Teacher turnover rates ranged from a high of 28 percent in Halifax County's Weldon City Schools to a low of 2 percent in Surry County's Elkin City Schools.


The turnover report shows that more public schools report having trouble finding teachers in fields that are in the greatest demand.


Eighty percent of the state's school districts said they've had trouble finding instructors licensed to teach high school mathematics, while about two-thirds of the state's school districts reported having trouble finding high school science and special education teachers.

 


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