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Sometimes, teacher turnover is a good thing, study finds

Washington Post
January 25, 2016

Washington Post

Education experts have long viewed teacher turnover as a negative factor that erodes student achievement and contributes to an unstable school environment. But a new study of IMPACT — the controversial D.C. Public Schools teacher evaluation system that has been accused of contributing to the city’s higher-than-average turnover — suggests that not all turnover is created equal.

The departure of teachers who score poorly on IMPACT is actually a good thing because student scores on math and reading tests tend to improve substantially after such teachers depart, according to a working paper to be published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

In contrast, student scores tend to drop slightly when high-performing teachers leave their assignment for another school or district, presumably because it is difficult to find replacements who are as effective.

On the whole, because of the strong positive effect of exiting low-performing teachers, turnover under IMPACT led to an improvement in average student achievement, the study found.

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