Charter schools are trying to hold on to teachers by cutting work hours and adding perks such as on-site child care and retirement plans, writes Alexandria Neason on Slate.
Often charters hire new teachers, ask them to work long hours and then replace them in a few years.
At YES Prep, a network of 13 charter schools in Houston, the average classroom teacher stays for about 2 ½ years, writes Neason. At the start of the school year, Superintendent Mark DiBella decided to change that.
(He) pored through student test-score data, and found that more experienced, stable teachers were producing noticeably better student results.” He quickly assembled a committee of teachers to devise recommendations for getting more teachers to commit to at least five years in the classroom.
The network announced earlier this month a series of initiatives to improve retention, including across-the-board pay raises. In addition, more seasoned teachers will have a personal budget to spend on professional development, and more input on how their job evaluations will work. The network has also cut back on school hours and mandatory after-school activities.
KIPP, the country’s biggest charter network with 162 schools, changed its training for principals to boost teacher retention. Ninety-two percent of principals now stay beyond four years. Annual teacher retention has risen slightly to 70 percent last school year. The goal is 80 percent.
Nearly a third of KIPP teachers now have access to on-site child care and “some KIPP schools have shortened their school days and eliminated mandatory Saturday sessions,” writes Neason.
By the 2012-13 school year, the most recent data available, turnover at charter schools had decreased to 18.4 percent, she reports. That’s slightly higher than the 15.5 percent rate for teachers at district-run schools.
Teacher turnover — moving schools and quitting the profession — is higher at high-needs schools, notes the Shanker Blog, citing the Teacher Follow-up Survey.
A new federal study of public school teachers’ attrition and mobility rates in the first five years includes both charter and district teachers. “During their second year (in 2008–09), 74 percent of beginning teachers taught in the same school as the previous year (stayers), 16 percent taught in a different school (movers), and 10 percent were not teaching,” according to the report.
At the end of five years, 83 percent were teaching, though some had switched schools. That’s much higher than previous estimates of new teacher turnover.