Report shows rising teacher turnover in Wisconsin

August 28, 2023 2:18 PM

Over the past decade, more than one in ten teachers in Wisconsin have either moved to a new district or quit teaching altogether every year.

By: Nate Wegehaupt

WISCONSIN (Civic Media) – A new report from the non-profit policy research organization The Wisconsin Policy Forum shows that teacher turnover has been on the rise in Wisconsin. While turnover rates have been generally high for over a decade, they’ve jumped even more since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

The report considers turnover whenever a teacher appears to work for a school district one year, and does not appear the next. This could be because a teacher either retires, or because they moved to a different district.

Graph courtesy The Wisconsin Policy Forum

The report found that, between 2009 and 2023, Wisconsin schools had a turnover rate of 11.5%, meaning that one in ten teachers in Wisconsin either left their district or quit teaching altogether every year. 

One of the biggest jumps came in 2012, when the turnover rate jumped over 5% from the year before to 13%. In 2011, the turnover rate was just under 8%. That jump coincided with the passage of Act 10, which eliminated collective bargaining for public school teachers, and led to a wave of teacher retirements. 

During the first two years of the COVID pandemic, teacher turnover rates remained largely stable at around 11%. But in 2022 those rates began to climb, hitting over 12% in 2022 and nearly 16% in 2023. Between 2021 and 2023, the total increase was over 5%

While the Wisconsin Policy Report does not give specific reasons as to the jump in turnover rates, they do put forward several possible causes. They point to the low national unemployment rate of 3.1% and high inflation rates potentially leading teachers to leave for higher paying jobs. They also pointed to heightened stress that was brought on by health, political, and logistical issues that arose during the pandemic. 

The report found that turnover rates over the past decade have been higher in smaller communities, and among teachers of color.

Graph courtesy The Wisconsin Policy Forum
Graph courtesy The Wisconsin Policy Forum

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