NewsHour Segment Producer Shares Rationale Behind 40 Percent New Teacher Attrition Figure

Learning Matters, the folks behind the recent PBS NewsHour teacher attrition piece I had so many questions about, got back to me recently about why they used a higher new teacher attrition rate than I’d seen elsewhere, along with a memo from Richard Ingersoll that goes into more detail.

As you may recall from my original post (Last Night’s PBS NewsHour May Have (Wildly) Overstated the Dropout Rate for New Teachers), PBS claimed that new teacher attrition is 40 percent over five years, when newer research has the figure much lower (17 percent).

In essence, Learning Matters says that they knew that there were two different numbers out there but thought the higher number was better: “The reports were generated from different databases, so it’s not an apples to apples comparison, not a question of ‘old’ and ‘new,'” according to an email from one of the producers. “We felt 40% was a more accurate estimate.”

Here’s the Ingersoll memo (Beginner Attrition_differences) if you want to know more of the details

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Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at