Must Reads

Survey: Today’s teaching force is less experienced, more open to change
By Jackie Mader
Hechinger Report, October 23, 2012

Teacher-Leader Corps Helps Turn Around Schools
By Stephen Sawchuck
Education Week, April 20, 2011

New Teachers are the New Majority 
By Celine Coggins & Heather Peske
Education Week, January 19, 2011

Lesson Plan in Boston Schools: Don’t Go It Alone
By Mike Winerip
New York Times, August 8, 2010


April 2012

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April Newsletter

Thursday April 19, 2012

Stemming the Tide of Teacher Turnover

At Teach Plus, we’re in the throes of an exciting time of year.  This spring, we’ll select almost 150 teachers for leadership positions in our Teaching Policy Fellowship and T3 Initiative in cities across the country.  Virtually everyone on staff is sharing inspiring stories of great teachers whose applications they’ve read so far.  It is an incredible reminder of the immense talent that exists in urban schools.

In their applications, many teachers write about how the opportunity to become a leader from within the classroom may be the game-changer in their decision to stay or move on. 

But what keeps me up at night is the thought of the thousands of teachers who won’t have access to these types of meaningful leadership opportunities—opportunities that allow them to expand their impact and grow their skills while continuing to work with students. We know a great portion of effective teachers will not be going back to the classroom in the fall—and that students will lose out.

With teacher morale on the decline, it is more vital than ever that we find new ways to keep great teachers invigorated about their careers.  Nationally, some 30 percent of teachers leave the profession every year, and that rate is about 50 percent higher in high-poverty schools. 

A growing body of research confirms what teachers already know: experience matters, and teacher turnover hurts student outcomes.  In schools with high rates of teacher attrition, school culture and community is sufficiently damaged that achievement levels decline, even for those students whose teachers remain in the classroom.

Teachers, we want to hear from you.  Are you committing to another year?  What was most important to you in making that decision?  Will you be leaving the classroom this spring?  If so, is there anything that could have been done to keep you? 

In an upcoming series on the Teach Plus blog on the Huffington Post, teachers will share their reflections on these tough questions.  And as teachers are grappling with hard choices, the rest of us must keep asking: What more can we do to make great teaching sustainable?

Top stories in education policy this week:

Deadlocked Negotiators Fail to Reach Consensus on Teacher Prep Rules: With consensus out of reach on new accountability rules for teacher preparation programs, the U.S. Education Department calls an end to the negotiations.

New Study Identifies 'Opportunity Gap' for Students: Low-income and minority students in New York City have less access to the city's most effective public schools and most experienced teachers, says new research from the Schott Foundation.  A related Brookings report released today shows that housing segregation and school zoning laws limit low-income students' access to great schools.

LAUSD considers lowering the bar for graduation: Beginning this fall, Los Angeles students will be required to pass college-prep level courses to graduate—but LAUSD is now back-peddling on those requirements, fearing a rise in dropout rates.

TIME 100 2012: The 100 Most Influential People in the World: Newark Public Schools superintendent Cami Anderson is a "modern-day freedom fighter," and online learning innovator Salman Khan's "impact on education might be truly incalculable."  Plus, read what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has to say about NBA phenom Jeremy Lin.

Take Action

In Los Angeles: LAUSD and UTLA have approved an initiative to develop a new, teacher-driven evaluation system.  This evening, join fellow teachers for a hands-on session to build your own "ideal" system.  Don't miss this chance to have your say.

National: Help shape the U.S. Department of Education’s RESPECT Project to transform teaching.  Use their toolkit to organize your own conversation about RESPECT, and then report back to the Department.  You will be invited to a conference call with Secretary Arne Duncan to discuss your findings.  Learn more now!

National: Teachers, as you wind down from state testing season or gear up for it, use the teacher-created rating tool Assessment Advisor to share your views on those assessments.  Rate an assessment by May 1, and you'll be entered to win a Kindle Fire.

National: If you're a K-12 teacher using technology to positively impact student learning, you could join other educators at the Microsoft Partners in Learning US Forum, and go from there to the Global Forum in Athens, Greece!  Learn more about how to apply.