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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Florida teachers leaving in droves

From State Impact, by John O'Connor

Florida teachers are leaving the classroom at a faster rate than the national average, according to a new study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Richard Ingersoll for the Alliance for Excellent Education.
About 8 percent of Florida teachers left the classroom from 2008 to 2009. Nationally, 6.8 percent of teachers left the classroom during the same period. Florida’s rate of attrition is higher than other large states, such as California, Illinois, New York and Texas.
Predictably, those rates are higher at schools with a high percentage of low-income or minority students. Those schools are also more likely to employ teachers with less experience.
“Teachers departing because of job dissatisfaction link their decision to leave to inadequate administrative support, isolated working conditions, poor student discipline, low salaries, and a lack of collective teacher influence over schoolwide decisions,” the report states.
Ingersoll estimates the turnover cost the Sunshine State between $61.4 million and $133.6 million from 2008 to 2009.
Long-term, the trend means students are now more likely to have a less experienced teacher. In 1987-1988, the most common amount of teacher experience was 15 years. In 2007-2008, teachers were most often in their first year. The figure has risen to five years’ experience since the Great Recession.
The report recommends formal induction programs, which include several years of mentoring, scheduling a common planning time for teachers and making professional development a priority. Hillsborough County schools have reduced their attrition rate with a mentoring program funded in part by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Hat tip to our friends at StateImpact Indiana for pointing out the study.


  1. What are those stats for Duval County, where it is hello 'one and done', Teach for America, and good riddance Career Educators.

  2. For most, there is an relationship between salary and everything else. If the salary were really good, one might stay and struggle with everything else. Conversely, if the salary were low but everything else was going great, I think more teachers would stay. Although I understand that teachers know what they are going into concerning pay (a vital issue), I see many teachers staying in less difficult environments for the same pay in Duval County.
    I know my first year was very difficult, and over the summer, I started looking for a job in a completely different field. I then decided to try one more year, and in that year, my classroom management skills soared as I became consistent and I followed through with consequences. I did not change schools; my admin was supportive and my department collaborated, which helped a lot. If I sent a student out, that student stayed out. If a parent or student arbitrarily complained, my principal backed me up. Now, I am the head of my department, mentoring other teachers; however, I only have teachers with 2 years or less of high school teaching experience in my department. Most still struggle in some way with management or organization. Pedagogy is the last thing on their minds, as they are just trying to ensure that the students are learning something new every day. There is only the thought of WHAT to teach, day by day. Few think of HOW to teach something, let alone WHY something should be taught in a specific way. It takes experience, and my school became a revolving door once TFA came in the picture.
    I personally believe that teachers new to Duval need to teach smaller classes with only 1 prep. They also need to co-teach with 1 other experienced teacher for 1 out of their 6 classes. Yes, this will cost money, but with a good teacher, they won't need the loads of professional development that they are forced to suffer under. I learned more from watching people teach than from sitting in a PD workshop.
    Also, let's consider the fact that schools throughout Duval are allocated teachers based on student population numbers. Why should a school with majority struggling learners and newer teachers have the same resources and number of teachers as other schools with less security issues, more resources, easier environment, etc? In the past, I have taught AP or college classes with over 30 students. They require loads of grading; however, I would rather have me with over 30 students than a newer teacher with 30 students or more. I am not even talking about having 40 students for certain schools, but like 35, so other schools can have 25 in a class. There is a major difference between even 25 to 30. Unless you have taught, you just don't know. If Dr. Vitti really wants to see change, he has to start considering school by school issues.
    The Times Union needs to do a school by school analysis of the attrition rate of Jacksonville and the experience level of teachers. If people found out that hospital 1's average doctor had 5 years or less of experience and hospital 2's average doctor had 15 years or more of experience, most, if not all, would run to the 2nd hospital; most would not care how dynamic or passionate or hardworking the newer doctor is, because 1, 3, or even 5 years is not enough to prove competency!
    Teachers, new and experienced, need support; we need to feel valued. In Duval, there is not a big increase in pay until 23/24 years. I essentially get paid 2,000-3,000 more than a beginning teacher; I have taught for 9 years! Most who leave acknowledge that they could get paid way more or even similarly for a job that is less stressful and actually valued. I currently stay for the students, but I am unsure about my future in education. I think many teachers have that same mentality.