The Teaching Profession

Contrary to Predictions, Rate of Teacher Retirements Looks to Decline in 2020

An analysis of teacher retirements during 2020 found that the rate was down by about five percent. Just one state under study — Alabama — showed an increase in retirements, of 7.2 percent. The research was undertaken by Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit focused on changing education for underserved children, and published on 74 million.

The nonprofit pursued the topic to find out whether mid-year predictions were true that up to a third of teachers were "somewhat or very likely" to leave their jobs this year, compared to the average eight percent who do in a typical year.

The research project sought data about retirements from teacher pension plans. After reaching out to all 50 states and Washington, D.C., it received data from seven states, representing about 865,000 "active workers." Not all of these were teachers; the data also covered other education employees.

One reason the rate of retirements didn't spike could have to do with the fact that most teachers pushed for or opted into remote instruction this school year. That meant they didn't have to expose themselves to the risk of COVID-19 to the extent expected in the summer. "In the early stages of the pandemic, it was widely perceived that schools could serve as potential superspreader environments," the researchers wrote. "Starting the year in the relative safety of virtual settings may have prompted near-retirement teachers to remain in their Zoom classrooms."

The Bellwether article and data summary are openly available on the 74 million website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.