ATLANTA—Charter schools led by for-profit and nonprofit management organizations have more turnover and attrition than other charter schools, according to new research by Christine Roch of Georgia State University and Na Sai of Bridgewater (Mass.) State University.
The study, published in The Social Science Journal, examines whether working conditions in different types of charter schools lead to different levels of teacher turnover. The researchers studied charter schools managed by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs), those managed by nonprofit charter management organizations (CMOs) and regular charter schools. They also considered teacher migration—the transfer of teachers from one school to another, and teacher attrition—the act of teachers leaving the profession altogether.
Using national data from the 2011–12 Schools and Staffing Survey, they found the odds of attrition at for-profit EMOs 38 percent higher and at nonprofit CMOs 24 percent higher than at regular charter schools. They also found the odds of migration 97 percent higher for EMO teachers and 58 percent higher for CMO teachers.
“Teachers generally leave the profession at high rates across all types of institutions,” says Roch, an associate professor of public management and policy and director of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies’ joint doctoral programs in public policy with the Georgia Institute of Technology. “About half a million teachers leave their schools each year, so the fact that charter school attrition rates are even higher than the norm is concerning.”
Roch and Sai also found the amount of opportunities provided for administrative support and professional development, salaries, work hours and levels of student misbehavior can contribute to increased migration and attrition.
“Unfortunately for students, high turnover may lead to lower levels of teacher quality, especially if experienced and effective teachers leave,” says Roch. “A teacher who leaves takes away their expertise and knowledge about students and their families, the curriculum and the school’s practices. Their leaving decreases the chance that students will be taught by effective teachers and potentially negatively affects students’ academic outcomes.”
With charter schools becoming increasingly more prevalent, Roch urges those involved in education policy to pay attention to these patterns.
“During the 2014–15 school year, EMOs and CMOs managed 44 percent of all public charter schools within the U.S.,” she says. “We need to understand whether or not our teachers are happy or unhappy and determine what working conditions affect those levels of satisfaction.”
By Rashida Powell