Invest in Your People to Reduce Teacher Turnover

Why time spent growing your teachers can help save your district $$$.

What’s that they say about an ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure? Or plugging the hole in your bucket before trying to fill it?

There’s a reason for these sage proverbs: avoiding a problem — like teacher turnover — is better than having to fix it.

Q: What’s better than being able to fill all of your open teaching positions for the year quickly and easily?

A: Reducing the number of vacancies in the first place by making sure your teachers are engaged and continually growing in practice.


After all, teacher turnover is costly!

Get a handle on how much turnover costs you each year.


1. How Many Teachers?

How many teachers work in your school or district? Enter your numbers in the fields below.

How many teachers leave your school or district each year? If you don’t know, enter your best estimate.

2. Cost of Hiring

How much do you spend on recruiting per teaching position? (Advertising on job boards, flyers, attending/traveling to job fairs, etc.)

How much do you spend on processing and onboarding each new teacher?

How much is your signing bonus for new teachers? If there is no signing bonus, enter zero.


Your Results

Your school system’s retention rate is:

Every year, turnover costs your school system:

How Much Could You Save?

If you increased your retention rate by…
1%  you would save   every year.
3%  you would save   every year.
5%  you would save   every year.
10%  you would save   every year.
*Auto-filled figures are based on estimates from the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future

The good news: You can take steps to reduce turnover, improve instruction and impact student achievement at the same time.

In a 2012 study i, 68% of teachers said that supportive leadership is “absolutely essential” to teacher retention. Other important factors included professional development that is relevant to personal and school goals, time for teachers to collaborate, and evaluations based on multiple measures.

Here’s how several districts are providing that supportive leadership at every stage of teachers’ careers.


It Begins on Day One: Onboarding

Blue Valley Schools took first place in Niche Rankings’ “2017 Best Places to Teach in Kansas” — the district does a phenomenal job attracting and nurturing talent. Chief Human Resources Officer Bob Kreifels says supporting new teachers begins on day one.

“We work with our professional learning colleagues that very first week of bringing new teachers on board. Human Resources takes the first morning to welcome them and make sure they have everything they need, and then our professional learning department takes over the next 4½ days….We have a full two-year mentorship program where we stay very closely connected to those teachers, because we know that’s the most critical time for them to experience success.”

Throughout a Teacher’s Career: Ongoing Support

Continuous, job-embedded professional learning takes many forms. Sarah Hayden, an instructional coach at Gresham-Barlow School District in Oregon, told us about the job-embedded, collaborative, classroom-focused professional learning they provide. Their “collaboration walks” are not only an effective way to learn, they’re a magnet for teachers.

“Teachers now feel more confident in letting people in and talking about teaching in rich and meaningful ways. And every teacher, from the pre-service teacher to the 20-year veteran teacher, says, ‘I have room to grow, too.’”

Underneath It All: Culture

Erin King, principal at Forest Park Middle School in Wisconsin, says that culture really comes down to relationships. She has given a lot of thought to the conversations she has with the teachers in her building, especially when they surround classroom observations.

“People do want to learn, and they want to grow. They signed up to be an educator, because they believe the best of kids, and they want to get better. … When you have open, honest conversations, you’re able to do that and not end up leaving here worried about your job or thinking that somebody is going to be watching you, and being really nervous and upset about that. It really is about relationships.”

Resources for Continuous Improvement

Looking for ideas to help you engage, grow and retain your teachers and staff? Our Resources for Continuous Improvement page is overflowing with eBooks, case studies and interactive content to support you in your work.


Dive In  

i Primary Sources: 2012: America's Teachers on the Teaching Profession. (2012). Retrieved from