A New Approach to the Cost of Teacher Turnover

April 2007

Anthony Milanowski and Allan Odden explore ways districts can reduce the costs (in terms of lost school productivity and lost training investments) of teacher turnover. They conclude that districts should not try to prevent all turnover but could prevent the most harmful turnover by offering incentives to one group of teachers: Efforts to reduce turnover should be targeted at individuals who have taught long enough to become highly effective normally after about five years of experience but have not reached the top of the pay schedule.

The current teacher pay schedule, by deferring so much of teachers lifetime compensation to near the end of the career, makes turnover of senior teachers less costly when these teachers are replaced by much lower-paid individuals.

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