Student achievement can be severely harmed by the issue of high teacher turnover in urban schools. This article discusses the causes of this phenomenon and strategies for preventing it.
Long-Term Solutions to Teacher Shortages
With the national teacher shortage at a critical point, many states and school districts are taking action to strengthen their workforce. These solutions help educators improve retention, enhance hiring, and provide better student outcomes.
Some states are using federal relief dollars to address the educator shortage. This includes reducing class sizes and offering signing bonuses. Federal funding also enables schools to hire substitute teachers across the country.
The most effective solutions are long-term solutions. While the immediate solution is to ease licensure requirements, this will not do much to address the shortage over the long term.
For example, California, which has the lowest student-to-teacher ratio in the country, would need about 100,000 additional teachers to reach the national average. However, the state currently needs a pipeline of college-educated educators.
States can fund initiatives like the Teaching Fellows Program and Teacher Quality Partnerships to enhance the teacher pipeline. Congress has committed more funding to these programs. In addition, states can support teachers of color and low-income families by creating loan forgiveness programs. There are both live classes and online courses available. A teaching degree, like an online masters in English education, is just as respected and valuable as one earned on campus.
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Teachers often need to be more satisfied with their jobs. Despite the long hours and hard work that teachers put in, many feel they are not rewarded. Several studies have identified factors that contribute to this feeling.
Among the most common reasons teachers leave are pay dissatisfaction and high turnover. Research has found that teacher satisfaction is germane to the sustainability of social transformation.
Teacher turnover disrupts schools, breaks down communities, and affects student achievement. Fortunately, there are several strategies for reducing turnover. One of the most effective is better training for new teachers.
Another is higher pay. Higher salaries can help retain teachers in challenging urban areas. However, finding and training new teachers is expensive. The Learning Policy Institute estimates turnover costs for urban districts of up to $20,000 annually.
Other interventions include more voice in decision-making, improved school culture, and realigning job duties. Depending on the characteristics of the schools, these methods may only apply to some teachers.
Teachers considering leaving cite political attacks on teachers, a lack of professional respect, and low salaries as the main reasons. They also point to heavy workloads and staff shortages. In addition, they say their professional development could be improved.
The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) implemented a new teacher evaluation system called IMPACT. Its goal is to boost student achievement. This is important because DCPS has some of the highest teacher turnover rates in the nation. In fact, IMPACT was ranked the most significant driver of teacher turnover in the 2020 Teacher Attrition Survey.
The IMPACT system evaluates teachers on five criteria. One of them is the value-added score. The score is based on observations of students in classrooms. These are then weighted to make a score.
Although IMPACT is meant to improve student achievement, it’s hard to ignore the high stakes that come with its use. DCPS has been accused of implementing the program to drive down low-performing teachers. And according to the American University School of Education, IMPACT has been prone to racial bias. Nonetheless, IMPACT is generating meaningful gains in student outcomes.
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Strategies For Preventing Turnover
As many as two-thirds of educators leave their positions within five years of beginning teaching. The cost of this turnover is high, and it disrupts instructional continuity and causes school culture to disintegrate. To effectively prevent teacher turnover, schools should focus on improving recruitment and retention practices.
A recent Alliance for Excellent Education study estimates that turnover costs American schools $7 billion annually. But there are ways to prevent this problem without a big financial commitment. In addition to better recruiting methods, principals and administrators must be committed to long-term interventions.
The degree of collegiality among teachers is one of the most crucial factors. With this, teachers are more likely to collaborate and assume leadership roles in professional learning communities. This can hinder their ability to improve instruction over time.
Another factor is the need for more institutional knowledge. Schools with a high level of minority students have a higher turnover rate. These schools have a higher turnover rate of teachers, which leaves a knowledge gap in the classroom.