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ATTRACTING AND RETAINING HIGHLY QUALIFIED TEACHERS

In an effort to meet the highly qualified teacher requirement in No Child Left Behind, some school districts have raised class-size limits to reduce the number of teachers needed. According to Education Week, 56 percent of the Los Angeles school district’s newly hired teachers are certified, compared with only 34 percent last year. At the same time, however, the state raised class-size limits to “[ease] the pinch on the teacher supply.” Such action by a school district would take some of the heat off finding highly qualified teachers, but it also seems to fly in the face of the long-term goal of increased student achievement.

In its new report, Every Child a Graduate, the Alliance calls for the implementation of a new Teacher and Principal Quality Initiative that would offer incentives and support to attract and recruit highly qualified teachers. Significant federal funds exist to help states and districts recruit and retain teachers and principals, and reform certification and licensure systems, but more needs to be done to increase the pool of talented teachers available to serve our neediest students in hard-to-staff districts such as Los Angeles.

Alliance Recommendations to Improve Teacher Recruitment and Retention

The Alliance’s Teacher and Principal Quality Initiative features a powerful incentive-a $4,000 annual federal income tax credit-to encourage America’s best teachers and principals to accept the challenge of working in high-poverty schools. The credit would go to teachers in states and school districts that are willing to increase resources dedicated to paying teachers as skilled professionals.

The Alliance Initiative also calls for federal funds to recruit beginning teachers who are highly qualified in their discipline for high-needs schools by targeting up to $20,000 in grants to college juniors with at least a 3.4 grade point average in their major. To retain quality teachers in high-needs areas, up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness would be offered in exchange for a commitment to teach in high-needs schools for at least five years.

Such incentives would go a long way in helping districts meet the highly qualified teacher requirement in No Child Left Behind-without forcing districts to make cuts in other areas that affect student achievement. Without the tools to compete against other more financially rewarding professions, districts will continue to have trouble finding quality teachers for their neediest students. According to a study by Richard M. Ingersoll of the University of Pennsylvania, 20 percent of teachers at high-poverty schools left teaching or moved to other schools in 1999, compared with 12.9 percent in low-poverty schools.

Teacher mentoring and induction programs are important to retain teachers to give them the support they need. School districts would be responsible for putting in place an intensive mentoring and training program for new teachers that would help them better teach high-need students. In addition, ongoing content-based professional development would be continuously available for all teachers and principals.

Spotlight on School Districts: New Teacher Training in Dallas and Baltimore

 

The No Child Left Behind Act has forced many districts to be creative and develop new methods to recruit and retain teachers; but more needs to be done. In the Dallas Independent School District, first-year teachers leave at a rate of 31 percent. In an effort to provide teachers the support they need, the district has developed a program called “T-cubed.” Instructional coaches will model effective teaching strategies, offer assistance with classroom management, and coach in lesson design.

The Baltimore County Public Schools District is implementing its own program to increase teacher retention. This summer it offered more than 600 new teachers the opportunity to attend its New Teacher Summer Institute. The Institute provided four weeks of professional development. The new teachers also observed veteran teachers and interacted with students in the classroom.

 

Education Week article: City Districts Seek Teachers with Licenses

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.