09 July 2007

Not a News Flash, But Still a Twist

Teacher retention has been an issue in public education for some time now. The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF) has published another study on this topic. Key findings include
  • The national cost of public school teacher turnover could be over $7.3 billion a year.
  • Teacher attrition has grown by 50 percent over the past fifteen years.
  • The national teacher turnover rate has risen to 16.8 percent. In urban schools it is over 20 percent, and, in some schools and districts, the teacher dropout rate is actually higher than the student dropout rate.
  • The problem is most acute in the nation’s high minority, high poverty, and low performing schools. Because 46% of all new teachers in the United States leave the profession within five years, NCTAF says leaders of at-risk schools are in a constant cycle of rebuilding their staff.
The recommendations don't hold any new ideas---which doesn't diminish their importance, only that it's a renewed call for public school leaders to listen---save one: Amending NCLB to hold school leaders accountable for turnover and its costs. That's a rather novel idea, don't you think? I'm not so sure how it would play out. Would you count retirees? Those who choose to start a family and leave their job to be a stay-at-home parent? Teachers who move, but then become employed in a different district? What do you do with districts (like mine) who have shrinking student enrollments and need fewer teachers? And, finally, what about those teachers who discover that public education is just not for them?

I'm not forgetting that most teachers leave the profession because of a perceived lack of administrative support and working conditions. If those can somehow be addressed in a way that makes sense for all stakeholders, it needs to happen. Perhaps tying it in with NCLB would be a forum for doing so.


Hugh O'Donnell said...

You may have answered your own question, SG. There are so many variables that we could trust the NCLB architects to bobble it -- at least based on past performance in criteria requirements.

Again, we're back to leadership. How about a wiki, or some other interconnectivity between supes and principals with input from teachers and classified personnel too. Get exemplary leadership out there as a norm, not the far right end of the curve.

Just thinkin', not pontificating... :-)

The Science Goddess said...

Hey, thinkin' out loud is what blogs are for!