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Attrition rate for teachers higher, but ‘remarkably stable’, state says

Students learn in class
Students learn in class(WITN)
Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 7:56 PM EST
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N.C. (WITN) - As Beaufort County Schools rebounds from a year and a half of switching from remote to in-person learning, some staff positions still need to be filled, according to Assistant Superintendent Mark Doane.

“We’re certainly trying to continue to try to hire more bus drivers, more substitute teachers, and then we have our traditional teacher vacancies,” Doane said. “I can honestly say that when it comes to teaching positions, we had our usual vacancies. I didn’t notice a greater impact.”

The State Board of Education released its annual report on Wednesday that shows although there was an increase in teachers who quit their job during the first year of the pandemic, the rate remains “remarkably stable” in light of the massive disruption forced by COVID-19.

“Of a total 94,328 teachers employed by the state’s public schools, the 8.2 percent rate represents 7,735 teachers who were no longer employed in the teaching profession at the conclusion of the March 2021 reporting period,” the state said.

In all, 600 more teachers left teaching jobs in North Carolina, which is a jump from what the 2019-2020 State of the Teaching Profession in North Carolina report showed, with 7,111 teachers no longer employed in state public schools (or public charter schools).

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said attrition from the state’s teacher corps remains a concern but the numbers for the 2020-21 school year show that the state “didn’t see a big surge in teachers leaving the classroom, at least in the first 12 months of the pandemic.”

“We’ll be assessing the impact of the second year of the pandemic when we’re able to analyze data from the 2021-22 school year,” Truitt said.

Previously, a variety of “personal reasons” accounted for the majority of responses teachers gave for their decisions to leave.

“But the report also indicates a sharp increase in the number and percentage of teachers giving other non-specific or unknown reasons,” the state said. “For 2020-21, those two categories represented 25% of all exiting teacher responses, compared to 7.6% in 2019-20.”

Regardless of the reasoning teachers decided to leave, counties in Eastern Carolina continue to deal with vacant teaching positions, including in Washington County, where the school system is one of several districts on the report with the highest teacher attrition rates.

Table 5: Five Highest and Lowest LEAs in State Attrition Rates 2020-2021.
Table 5: Five Highest and Lowest LEAs in State Attrition Rates 2020-2021.(WITN)

Washington County Superintendent Linda Carr called hiring during the 2020-21 school year “stressed and challenging.”

“Highly qualified certified teachers are not available,” Carr said.

Beaufort County Schools’ Doane echoed Carr’s sentiment.

“Traditionally, all schools, and Beaufort County is no different, struggle with hiring exceptional children’s teachers, high school math, middle school positions. Those are our traditional areas of need,” Doane said.

Like Carr, Doane refuses to give up, and continues efforts to hire.

“You don’t go into education because you want to strike it rich,” Doane said. “You go into education cause you have a passion for helping students and helping their families. And we’re very fortunate to have tremendous teammates who... that’s where their heart is.”

To read other key findings in the report, click here.

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