Tuesday, January 23, 2018

America's teacher shortage

High teacher turnover is the root problem and: "Teachers leave schools with poor working conditions where they feel they cannot have success with their students".  Working in a jungle is not for everyone

This past fall, school districts nationwide faced serious teacher shortages that left many schools scrambling to find qualified teachers. Today, halfway through the academic year, many students are being taught by a temporary teacher because their schools could not fill positions in time — in Arizona, for example, more than 1 in 5 teaching positions remained unfilled four months into the school year, and an estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of teachers in urban school systems are hired after the school year starts. Projections suggest that the national teacher shortage is only going to get worse, particularly in hard-to-staff subjects such as mathematics, science and special education.

In response, policymakers have taken steps to boost the supply of teachers. In December, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) passed emergency regulations designed to alleviate what he called the “growing crisis” of a statewide teacher shortage by streamlining education requirements for new teachers. Lawmakers in Arizona, Illinois and Minnesota recently took steps to increase the number of new teachers by lowering the teacher licensure requirements. States such as Oklahoma have staffed classrooms by providing record numbers of temporary emergency certifications. And, motivated in part by a call to ameliorate teacher shortages, New York state recently allowed charter schools to certify their own teachers and dropped literacy tests for teacher candidates.

Although these efforts may prove to be helpful, they fail to address one fundamental root of the problem: School systems need to hire teachers in great numbers only if they don’t retain enough of the well-qualified teachers they currently employ. Unfortunately, 15 years after Richard Ingersoll cautioned about the “revolving door” in the teaching profession, the challenge of teacher retention remains. This revolving door is not only expensive for schools and destabilizing for students, but it also contributes to inequality in educational experiences — students of color and those living in poverty are less likely to be assigned effective teachers.

Recognizing that better information is needed to understand and address this long-standing challenge, we conducted a large-scale study of teacher retention in a diverse set of 16 urban public school districts in seven states that together serve nearly 2.5 million students annually.

We found that on average, just over half of new teachers in the districts we examined remain in the classroom after five years. This finding largely mirrors prior research. What our work newly reveals, however, is substantial variation around this average: While turnover is a challenge in all of the districts we study, it’s a real crisis in some. Our study documented five important trends about teacher retention.

First, across the districts, the share of novice teachers who left their district within five years ranges from just less than half to nearly 75 percent. This is an enormous difference in retention rates. The annual hiring costs in the district with the lowest teacher retention rate would be about $4 million lower if it retained novice teachers at the highest rate we observe. In an era of tight school budgets, these dollars can and should be better spent elsewhere.

Second, even when teachers stay in the same district, they frequently move across schools. In one district, half of novice teachers stayed in the district, but only 1 in 5 remained in the same school for five years. This building-level turnover means that schools still must invest resources to find and train new candidates. And there is good evidence that turnover can hurt students because it causes organizational instability.

Third, after teachers leave the classroom, their likelihood of returning varies widely by district. In half of the districts we examined, it is common for teachers to return after a temporary leave of absence, such as parental leave. In the other half, few teachers returned after going on leave. This suggests that struggling districts may benefit from human resource policies that encourage teachers to return after a leave.

Fourth, we found that few teachers depart the urban districts we studied for other districts in the same state. Thus, these urban districts can’t necessarily point to their suburban counterparts as the drivers of their retention challenges.

Fifth, encouragingly, we found relatively higher retention among more effective teachers. Here again, however, we found considerable variation across districts. These differences imply an additional cost — lower student achievement — in districts struggling to retain their top performers.

Our research revealed no obvious, simple way to improve teacher retention. The differences in retention rates that we saw across districts are not explained by easy-to-observe factors such as student demographics or teacher salaries. But related research shows that teachers leave schools with poor working conditions where they feel they cannot have success with their students, and they stay in schools where they feel supported by their colleagues, their principals and their school culture. Working to build more supportive school environments can both help students and ameliorate the retention crisis plaguing some of our urban school systems.

With teacher shortages on the rise across the country, policymakers must expand their focus beyond policies that only increase the supply of new teachers. While such efforts might act as Band-Aids to solve immediate shortages, they alone will not address the roots of the challenge. Our research shows that some districts are facing turnover rates that are unsustainably high. With teacher shortages on the rise and as states and districts make strides in promoting equal access to high-quality teachers for all students, a focus on teacher retention and attention to what conditions encourage teachers to stay at a particular school must be part of the solution.


UK: Girls must be told they CAN'T have it all says new head of leading girls' private schools who believes women must balance career and family

Women are held back by outdated ideas about what they should be able to achieve in their professional and personal life, according to the new head of the Girls' School Association.

In her first interview since taking up the post, Gwen Byrom, 47, headmistress of Loughborough High School, said the idea that schools must teach a more nuanced version of feminism.

She said that encouraging young women to aspire to positions of power is one of her top priorities in the role but she wants them to realise they will need to balance careers and family.

'One message is that you can't be a successful leader if you have children. The other message has been in the past that you can have it all, you can have everything and do everything,' she told The Sunday Telegraph.

'I think we are now getting to a more nuanced position [where] you can talk about the challenges that face families … How do women step up into leadership roles and balance those challenges?

'Rather than promising girls that they should expect to enjoy a high-powered careers at the same time as raising a family, it is more important to teach them about the challenges of balancing priorities.'

'I think it is a conversation for students generally about their lives, how they will manage themselves and how they are going to manage their commitments over their life.'

'I am a working mother, I took my last period of maternity leave while I was a head. That was obviously fairly visible.

'This is a very busy job, it is a very full-on job, but I am still a mum and I can do both things. If the girls ask me how things are, if they ask me about particular situations, I will talk to them about how I manage things generally.'

Mrs Byrom has five children aged between two and 19 years old.

She said: 'I wouldn't necessarily set myself up as a role model for the girls in my school - but they may look at me and say if the head can do it, if the head can have a family and a busy job, then maybe I can as well.'


Australia: Fewer students make the grade for teaching courses as new standards take effect

This tightening of standards for teachers was long overdue but may not be sustainable if teacher shortages develop

For the first time, Victorian school leavers wanting to study undergraduate teaching this year had to achieve a minimum ATAR of 65.

The change coincided with a 22 per cent decline in offers made to aspiring teachers in the first round of university offers, an analysis by The Age found.

A total of 1933 offers for education or teaching courses were made to school leavers, 220 fewer than last year. The remaining 697 places went to other applicants, down from 1211 in 2017.

It came as the average ATAR of students pursuing education courses increased to 69.53, up from 62.7 last year.

In previous years, some education courses have only required an ATAR of 30.

This turnaround was welcomed by Victorian Education Minister James Merlino. "We always said we wanted to raise the bar for those wanting to become a teacher to ensure we keep lifting standards in our classrooms," he said.

The minimum ATAR will be hiked up to 70 in 2019 as part of a state government push to improve teacher quality and stem an oversupply of graduates entering the profession.

All aspiring teachers also have to pass a new non-academic test that screens them for resilience, ethics and empathy.

But Joanna Barbousas, the president of the Victorian Council of Deans of Education, warned that the changes could lead to a teacher shortage.

"There are concerns around the short term finances of university education programs and what it will mean for the profession in terms of a decrease in teacher supply," she said.

Associate professor Barbousas, who is also the head of La Trobe University's education department, said entry requirements were important but the real focus should be on the quality of courses.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace dismissed concerns of a teacher shortage, and said the changes would improve the standing of the teaching profession.

"Teaching is an incredibly complex job and we need to make sure that we have people that can deal with those complexities and deliver the highest quality education," she said.

The number of offers for some teaching courses has more than halved over the past four years.

A total of 285 first round places were offered at Australian Catholic University's primary teacher education course in 2014, but this year there were just 131 offers.

The large drop coincided with an increase in the university's clearly-in ATAR score from 58.5 to 65.

Offers also plunged for Deakin University's primary teaching course, Victoria University's Prep-Year 12 teaching stream, and RMIT's Primary Education course.


No comments: