Middle School Teacher Turnover

About Teacher Turnover

Some amount of teacher turnover is generally thought to be constructive, as it brings new ideas, energy, and skills to schools. However, research suggests that too much turnover may have serious instructional, financial, and organizational costs. These costs may be particularly acute in urban schools—which struggle to attract and retain talented teachers—and in middle schools, where teachers must meld pedagogical skills with knowledge of adolescents’ developmental needs.

About Our Study

Despite the important consequences of teacher turnover, there have been few studies of the rates and patterns of teacher turnover in NYC.

To address this gap, the Research Alliance conducted a three-year, mixed-methods study of teacher turnover, including detailed analyses of administrative data about the City’s teacher workforce, an original survey of teachers conducted in roughly 125 middle schools, and case studies in four middle schools that serve high-need student populations.

Using these data, we identified broad patterns of turnover during the past decade, examined the relationship between turnover and teachers’ perceptions of their work and schools, and explored the causes and consequences of turnover. Our final report, Who Stays and Who Leaves?, summarizes findings from the project and suggests directions for school and district leaders who are seeking to reduce turnover, particularly in the City’s middle schools.


Supported by the Ford Foundation.