Slowing the revolving door

Sometimes a telling story emerges virtually by accident. That’s what happened with our report on teacher attrition at turnaround schools, published in this issue of Catalyst In DepthDeputy Editor Sarah Karp was poring over state teacher service records and noticed that, surprisingly, teacher turnover didn’t end once a turnaround was in place. Not only did most existing teachers disappear with the turnaround—a process that requires teachers and other staff to reapply for their jobs—but most of the hand-picked teachers who replaced the veterans quickly vanished too.

Jumping the ship

The price tag to replace the thousands of teachers who leave CPS schools each year is $71.5 million. The academic cost of turnover is highest for poor students of color in distressed communities, who are most likely to see their teachers leave for easier jobs in other districts and other careers.

Turnaround to turnover

In the summer before a turnaround, schools that have been left to languish for years experience an adrenaline rush of frenetic energy. But at many of the turnarounds, the optimism almost immediately begins to unravel. Nowhere is this more evident than with the revolving door the turnaround sets in motion with teachers.