• Teachers and Leaders

We take a deeper dive into the data we reported in our February 2022 report Voices of the Shortage: 2022 Mississippi Teacher Survey, which uncovered that over half of teachers surveyed reported being “somewhat” or “very likely” to leave their Mississippi classroom by November 2022. 

This second report provides a nuanced look at which Mississippi teachers are considering an exit from the classroom and why. Central to the report is our examination of attrition risk and teachers’ standard of living, which we use to make the case that financial insecurity drives teachers’ desire to exit the classroom. Lastly, we offer recommendations for policymakers to address teacher turnover and strengthen every facet of Mississippi’s educator pipeline.

The Economic Realities of Living on a Teacher’s Salary

We believe solving the Mississippi teacher shortage crisis requires centering the lived experiences of educators. We explore what it means to live on a teacher’s salary.

Half of Mississippi teachers reported that they struggle to afford basic necessities.
Student loan debt complicates finances for half of Mississippi teachers.
Early-career teachers reported the highest levels of financial insecurity.
Black teachers and their peers of color face a vastly different economic reality from their White colleagues.
Teachers in lower-rated districts were more likely to struggle financially.
The choices that teachers make have little impact on their financial well-being.

What Drives Teacher Attrition in Mississippi

Using multiple linear regression—a statistical tool for measuring the relationship between variables—we examined the association between attrition risk (i.e., self-described risk of leaving their teaching position) and factors like years of experience and financial well-being.

Financial insecurity is one of the most reliable predictors of attrition.
Teachers with student debt reported being much more likely to leave the classroom.
Early-career teachers reported unusually high attrition risk, exacerbated by student debt.
Teachers with advanced degrees reported being more likely to leave the classroom.
Black teachers and their peers of color reported some of the highest attrition risk of all teachers, likely because of student debt.
Teachers in lower-rated districts and majority-Black districts reported the greatest attrition risk.

Policy Recommendations

Teacher turnover is a complex phenomenon but one that requires immediate action. Our survey offers policymakers key insights into what policy solutions may yield the most promising results. 

Incentivize teaching in Mississippi’s highest-need areas with an annual critical shortage stipend of $2,000.
Reduce teachers’ student debt burden by expanding eligibility and eliminating the cap on awards for the existing Winter-Reed Teacher Loan Repayment Program.
Increase take-home pay for teachers with families by lowering their state health insurance premiums.


toren ballard

Toren Ballard

Director of K-12 Policy

Toren Ballard is the Director of K-12 Policy at Mississippi First and is a co-author of Nothing in the Pipes: Educator Crisis in Mississippi and Voices of the Shortage: 2022 Mississippi Teacher Survey.

Grace Breazeale

K-12 Policy Associate

Grace Breazeale is the K-12 Policy Associate at Mississippi First. This is the first report she has co-authored at Mississippi First. She also publishes a monthly blog post dedicated to K-12 education policy in Mississippi.