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Breaking News: Inaccurate comparison of teachers leaving for personal reasons

In the most recent 2014-15 turnover report, the state says 5,681 teachers left for personal reasons last year — a dramatic increase from the 1,539 teachers it shows for 2010-11. 

Using the numbers in this chart, turnover for personal reasons increased 269 percent since 2010-11.

Why teachers leave

An analysis of the data shows that this comparison chart is not accurate when it comes to “Turnover for Personal Reasons.” The number of teachers who left for personal reasons in 2010-11 through 2012-13 should be much higher. For 2010-11, it should be 3,735. In 2011-12, it should be 4,173. And in 2012-13, it should be 4,623.

Our analysis here focuses on teachers leaving for personal reasons because the five-year jump in numbers was so startling, and we wondered why.

In the 2013-14 and 2014-15 reports, the category “Turnover for Personal Reasons,” included these eight subgroups:

Resigned due to family responsibilities/ childcare 

Resigned to continue education/sabbatical 

Resigned due to family relocation 

Resigned to teach in another state

Dissatisfied with teaching or career change 

Resigned due to health/disability 

Retired with reduced benefits 

Re-employed retired teacher resigned 

If you analyze 2010-11 through 2012-13 turnover data using these eight categories, we find different numbers than those presented in the comparison chart for “Turnover for Personal Reasons.” 

The 269 percent increase turns out to be a 52 percent increase over five years because the numbers are higher than reported by the state. To get a comparison across the years, we had to find the numbers for these specific subgroups in the old turnover reports and add their numbers together.

The state’s lower numbers for this category result because they only included these five subgroups in the following chart from the turnover report in 2012-13:

Retired with reduced benefits

Resigned to teach in an NC non-public/ private school

Resigned to teach in another state

Dissatisfied with teaching or career change

Did not obtain or maintain license

Table 10

This has serious implications for how this category of turnover data is portrayed by media. For example, the Charlotte’s Observer’s turnover article, says: 


“That report also showed that the number of teachers who resigned for personal reasons, including career changes and dissatisfaction with teaching, had soared statewide over the last two years.”

But the numbers didn’t “soar,” the subgroups used to calculate the category just changed. 

DPI officials have acknowledged the error. Vanessa Jeter, Director of Communication and Information Services for DPI said the report will be reposted and a note will be sent out to people who received the report.

Jeter said of the comparison chart: “It needed to be footnoted or we needed to say because we changed business rules, we’re not going to compare business reasons back further than 13-14.” 

DPI is in the process of recalculating the numbers from previous years. If there is a change, we will update our analysis here. 

For more information on the state’s turnover report, see EdNC’s companion article.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.