In March 2022, the Mississippi State Legislature passed the largest single-year pay raise for public school teachers in our state's history, raising teacher pay by an average of $5,151. Just months later, districts reported the highest levels of teacher attrition in years: one in five Mississippi teachers opted to not return to their classroom for the 2022-2023 school year, including one-third of all teachers in districts with an "F" accountability rating. These levels of attrition constitute a sharp uptick from previous years and beg the question: why are Mississippi teachers continuing to leave the classroom in droves?
Mississippi First has been studying this question for the last few years. In the months leading up to the historic 2022 teacher pay raise, we surveyed 6,496 teachers—one in five teachers statewide—about their pathway into the profession, financial well-being, career plans, and policy preferences. In this report, we present the results from the survey to provide a nuanced answer about which teachers are leaving the classroom and why. We also examine the connection between attrition risk and standard of living to make the case that financial insecurity is rampant among educators and a major driver of early exits from the classroom. Finally, we offer a series of recommendations for policymakers to address teacher turnover and strengthen every facet of Mississippi's educator pipeline