The national student dropout rate surpassed the one-million mark in 2009.

Kenneth R. Howey, Senior Fellow with the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, refers to the student dropout issue as “a well-documented national crisis.” But in a recent commentary entitled, “A Dual Dropout Crisis, Part 2,” he describes an equally troubling, albeit lesser-publicized, trend among teachers, particularly in high-poverty urban schools.

“Teachers are not only leaving the profession in increasing numbers, but early in their careers as well,” he says, pointing to data showing that the percentage of teachers leaving the profession early has risen to 20 percent.

“The costs of teacher turnover are substantial in terms of dollars, school efficacy and student learning,” says Howey. “Teachers who leave the profession impact school effectiveness in multiple ways, disrupting staff cohesion, institutional memory, curriculum continuity across grade levels and collective accountability for student learning.”

Roughly one-half of students in large urban school systems reportedly leave high school without a diploma. The Rockefeller Institute, along with the State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, is working with several urban universities across the country involved in developing community partnerships focusing on education.

“The costs of teacher turnover are substantial in terms of dollars, school efficacy and student learning …” – Kenneth Howey, Senior Fellow, Rockefeller Institute of Government

Recruiting, preparing and retaining high-quality teachers are integral to the success of these partnerships.

Students in high-poverty urban schools often drop out because of a lack of academic success; teachers in these areas often leave their posts due to inadequate preparation and ongoing support. It is here that the increasing dropout rate of teachers intersects with the dropout crisis among students – both of which are in need of national attention.

“It is the birthright of every youngster to have competent and caring teachers, and a school culture and climate characterized by harmony, stability, and high performance,” says Howey.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the University of Albany is a national independent research organization focusing on public policy issues at the state and local government level.