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A look at teachers leaving and entering North Carolina

This week, reports on both the state of the teaching profession and the teacher licensure processing system were released and presented to the State Board of Education.

The state attrition rate—which accounts for teachers leaving the N.C. public school system from March 2015 to March 2016—is 9.04 percent.

It’s worth noting that that figure cannot be meaningfully compared to the 2014-15 “turnover rate” of 14.5 percent. This year’s rate would seem like a huge drop. That’s not the case, said Tom Tomberlin, the director of educator human capital policy and research.

Turnover included mobility, or teachers moving between local school districts within the state. State attrition does not.

The LEA (local education agency) attrition rate, however, does include mobility. That rate is 13.4 percent.

Out of 95,549 teachers, 8,636 left from 2015-16. And 9.6 percent of those teachers—828 individuals—cited “resigned to teach in another state” as their reason for leaving.

Although the recording periods were different, the teacher licensure process report provides an idea of how many teachers are entering the state’s school system.

From August 2015 to the end of June 2016, 9,103 teachers were granted initial licenses—which are given to teachers with zero to two years of experience. And out of those 9,103 new licensed teachers, 2,947 were seeking out-of-state reciprocity, which means they already had a teaching license in another state.

Philip Price said that doesn’t mean all of those teachers ended up working in the state’s public school system.

“A lot of people just get licenses for a number of states to give them some options,” Price said. Although he did not have the specific number of new licensed teachers that were hired by N.C. public schools, he said that roughly 67 percent of licensed teachers are on the payroll.

Price also said that there are other sources of teachers each year that could or could not be in that total. He said that each year, hired teachers come from three categories. About a third come from educational programs. Enrollment in those programs at state universities has dropped about 30 percent since 2010. Another third are teachers who have been out of the profession and return for a number of reasons—one common one being maternity leave. The other third of new hires each year come from out-of-state. Price said this number has increased.

Liz Bell

Liz Bell is the early childhood reporter for EducationNC.