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During Critical Middle School Years, More than Half of NYC Teachers Leave Within Three Years, Says Latest Study from Research Alliance

March 21, 2013

An analysis of the New York City Department of Education’s human resource records, from 2002 through 2011, shows that middle school teachers left their schools at higher rates than elementary and high school teachers. More than half the teachers who entered a New York City public middle school left that school within three years. The study, which also included surveys of more than 4,000 middle school teachers and case studies in four schools, concluded that teacher turnover is one of the major challenges that NYC middle schools face as they attempt to build stable and effective learning communities.

“Who Stays and Who Leaves? Synthesis of Findings from a Three-Part Study of Teacher Turnover in NYC Middle Schools,” released today by the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, represents the most current and comprehensive investigation of the state of middle school teacher turnover to date. Additional findings of the study include:

• Only about one in ten departing middle schools teacher transitions to another New York City middle school.
The majority exits the city’s public school system, with most of the remainder moving to elementary or high schools.
• Teachers with less experience are more likely to leave their schools.
• Teachers are more likely to consider leaving their school if they entered teaching through alternative routes, such as Teach for America or NYC Teaching Fellows, or are teaching a new subject for the first time.
• Teachers are more apt to stay in schools with high levels of safety and order and where principals are seen as trusting and supportive of staff, knowledgeable instructional leaders and good managers.

The study is one of several being conducted by the Research Alliance that focus on the middle grades. For a complete copy of the report, visit:

“Strengthening middle schools has taken on increased urgency, and the stability of the middle school teaching force has the potential to facilitate or complicate improvement efforts,” said James Kemple, executive director of the Research Alliance. “Our findings point to a real exodus of teachers from the middle grades. Within individual schools, it is likely that improving working conditions can increase teachers’ lengths of stay. But our study also suggests that middle school teacher turnover is a systemic issue. There may be a need for a citywide initiative designed to support and incentivize teachers who commit to working in the middle grades.”

To request an interview with James Kemple, please contact Courtney Bowe at 212.998.6797 or in the NYU Office of Public Affairs.

About the Research Alliance for New York City Schools
The Research Alliance for New York City Schools is a non-partisan research center housed at the New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The Research Alliance conducts rigorous studies on topics that matter to the city’s public schools. The organization strives to advance equity and excellence in education by providing evidence about policies and practices that promote students' development and academic success. To learn more about the Research Alliance, visit

About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology.  Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School's mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice.  To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit: 

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Type: Press Release

Teacher Turnover is one of the Major Challenges that NYC Middle Schools Face

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