Does Testing Cause Teacher Turnover?

No, finds this new study by Dillon Fuchsman, Tim Sass, and Gema Zemarro. Specifically, they conclude:

Exploiting the elimination of testing in grades one and two and for science and social
science teachers in grades six and seven in Georgia, we find that the removal of statewide achievement tests had no effect on the likelihood of leaving teaching in general, nor did it impact the probability of changing schools within a district or the probability of moving between districts for teachers as a whole. We did find that eliminating testing in the lower elementary grades reduced the likelihood of teachers switching grades, but the effect was small. Thus, overall, we find no support for the notion that testing alone is having a major impact on overall teacher attrition or, conversely, that reducing the amount of testing will reduce teacher shortages.

The authors did see some small effects for early-career teachers in particular, but overall the findings run almost exactly counter to the conventional wisdom.

Additionally, the authors note that, “Twelve and one-half percent of the observations in our sample represent moves to leave the teaching profession, 2.6 percent moves to change districts, 4.5 percent moves to different schools and 12.6 percent changes of grades taught within the same schools.”

That last figure is crazy, especially given what we know about the negative effects of grade-switching. As a field we worry a lot about teachers who leave the profession entirely. And yet here we have a source of teacher turnover that’s just as large that’s happening within school walls.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman