When Oklahoma schoolkids return to the classroom this month, many of their teachers from last year will be nowhere to be found. An estimated 6,000 teachers will not be returning to the schools in which they taught last year, according to a report by the Alliance for Excellent Education.

That will cost the state more than $56 million, according to the foundation's new brief, "Teacher Attrition: A Costly Loss to the Nation and to the States."

Of the total number of missing teachers, about 2,500 of them are leaving the profession, which costs the state about $23 million in replacement costs. Others are transferring to other schools, at an approximate cost of another $33 million.

Nationally, almost 50 percent of teachers will leave the profession within the first five years of entering it, according to the Alliance which is funded by various foundations and individuals.

Oklahoma has a teacher mentoring program but the Alliance suggests new teachers need more than mentoring alone. They need a comprehensive program of support designed specifically to retain high-quality teachers.

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