State report says teacher vacancy & turnover are up out of 2023

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A report mandated by the North Carolina General Assembly says teacher vacancy rates are up, attrition in the state remains below the national average, and those entering the profession are taking an untraditional route.

The annual State of the Teaching Profession Report measured attrition and vacancies between March 2022 and March 2023.

The vacancy rate, according to the report, was 6.4% compared to 5.9% the year before. Officials say state legislators broadened the definition of a vacancy for the 2021-22 academic year. The new definition includes positions filled by teachers who are temporarily licensed and rehired retirees.

Senior Director of Educator Preparation, Licensure, and Performance at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) Dr. Tom Tomberlin said the increase in vacancies over the last two years is a result of school districts working diligently to comply with the new definition.

He says under the old vacancy model, the 6.4% vacancy rate for 2022-23 would be 3.7% or lower at 2.7%.

Teacher attrition or the number of educators altogether for a different career was 11.5% for the 2022-23 school year, up from 7.8% in 2021-22, according to the report.

Tomberlin says North Carolina’s attrition and vacancies trend is consistently lower than other industries nationwide have experienced and lower than turnover for other state employees with similar benefits. The Office of State Human Resources 2023 report says the state’s employee turnover rate is 16.6%.

The State of the Teaching Profession Report also states more North Carolina educators are entering the teaching profession as a second career. Officials say educators pursuing alternative licensure routes have risen significantly by about 23% since 2017, making up nearly half of all new educators in the state.

“These trends highlight the importance of providing enhanced support for early-career educators, including those who enter the profession through the residency license pipeline,” said State Superintendent Catherine Truitt.

The report also shows schools are also hiring more teachers than they lose. Officials say in fall 2023, 11,023 educators were hired after 10,373 attrited in the previous school year, sending the replenishment rate average to 122.8% over the past six school years.

However, Tomberlin characterized the teacher pipeline as “leaky,” saying of the 2,547 teachers issued a permit to teach in the 2018-19 school year, approximately 55% converted to a residency license by 2020-21.

As for emergency licenses, officials say out of 1,427 issued in 2018-19, only 34% converted to a residency license by 2020-21.

Tomberlin says the answer is support for beginning teachers, which encompasses educators in their first three years in education.

He also shared that Local Education Agencies (LEAs) reported 13,169 beginning teachers for the 2021-22 school year; however, an NCDPI analysis of state payroll and licensure records found 15,621 individuals with fewer than three years of experience.

View the full State of the teaching profession report here. A dashboard that includes data for each LEA is available here.