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NEWS RELEASES 2002-03 :: SEPTEMBER 12, 2002


North Carolina's local school systems reported an average teacher turnover rate of 12.49 percent for 2001-02, a decline from the 2000-01 rate of 13.96 percent. The 2001-02 rate is the lowest reported since 1997-98 when the rate was at 12.30 percent.

"This is a positive sign," said State Superintendent Mike Ward. "We hope it signals an upswing in our success in retaining high quality teachers in the classroom. At the same time, the average turnover rate reflects a wide range of local rates. Some districts in our state still face a significant teacher turnover problem."

Local district rates, in fact, ranged from a high of 30.57 in Hertford County to a low of 2.63 in Yancey County. (Local district figures are attached to paper copies of this release. To view the entire report on the Web, please go to: and click on the Executive Summaries for Sept. 12's Board meeting.)

Retirement topped the list of reasons teachers left teaching. Eighteen percent of the 11,533 teachers who left their school systems retired. In more than 90 percent of these cases, the retiring teachers were retiring with full benefits. The second most popular reason for leaving a teaching post was to teach elsewhere (16.9 percent). In three-fourths of these cases, the leaving teacher was planning to teach in another North Carolina school system.

"Other Reason or Reason Unknown" was listed as the cause of turnover in 13.5 percent of cases, representing 1,564 teachers.

Six hundred and sixty-seven teachers, 5.8 percent of those who resigned in 2001-02, left because of family responsibilities or child care. Dissatisfaction with teaching or a career change was the sixth most reported reason for leaving teaching. A total of 644 teachers reported leaving the profession because of professional dissatisfaction. This represents 5.6 percent of all teachers who resigned.

Turnover rates varied statewide even among districts with similar characteristics, such as size or the districts' rural or urban nature. Generally, the western mountain counties posted very low turnover rates, while the northeastern counties posted higher rates, but other general trends are difficult to spot.

State Board of Education Chairman Phil Kirk said that the range of numbers shows the importance of North Carolina's efforts to recruit and retain teachers. "With turnover rates this high, we need to recruit approximately 11,000 new teachers annually across the state. For some school districts however, their teacher ranks turn over every three to five years. This makes it very challenging to implement the kinds of improvements we want to see in our state, and for that reason, we must continue seeking ways to improve the stability of the teaching profession."

The State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction, supported by the General Assembly, have several initiatives to help recruit teachers:

  • alternative entry licensure routes;
  • a state center for teacher recruitment and retention;
  • a three-year induction program and paid mentors for new teachers;
  • regional licensure centers to help lateral entry teachers;
  • overall salary increases;
  • 12 percent pay increases for teachers with National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification;
  • 10 percent pay increases for teachers with master's degrees;
  • special recognition and awards programs, such as Teacher of the Year and the Christa McAuliffe Fellows Program;
  • strengthened requirements for new teachers and continuing ones;
  • teacher scholarship loans; and
  • Project TEACH, to encourage students to consider a teacher career.

For more information on teacher recruitment and retention, please contact Cecil Banks, Manager, DPI Center for Teacher Recruitment and Retention, 919.807.3375.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.