Teach Plus convened national working group of 22 teachers from across the country to research teacher retention in public charter schools
BOSTON – Many public charter schools are achieving strong results with their students, especially in urban neighborhoods. But the average public charter school loses a quarter of its teachers every year. To address this challenge, a national group of teachers from public charter schools joined together to research what schools can do to keep great teachers in front of students.
Teach Plus, a national non-profit organization based in Boston, brought together 22 public teachers from four states for virtual meetings over the course of a year. Together, the teachers designed a national survey of more than 200 public charter school teachers and former teachers, reviewed academic literature, and conducted focus groups and interviews with school leaders. La Shawn Allen, a teacher at Jack H. Skirball Middle School in Los Angeles, and Jeff Vogel of Prospect Hill Academy in Somerville, MA, will present the group’s report, “Why Are My Teachers Leaving? Retaining Public Charter Teachers for Student Success,” at the National Charter Schools Conference in Minneapolis this week.
Celine Coggins, founder and CEO of Teach Plus, says the group’s research is important because teacher turnover has been shown to harm student outcomes. “Experience matters,” says Coggins. “Research confirms that in schools with high rates of teacher attrition, school culture and community is damaged and achievement levels decline.”
The working group found several factors that contribute to teacher turnover, and identified successful practices used in public charter schools with lower than average turnover rates. Their paper recommends that school leaders and charter management organizations (CMOs) focus on four strategies to support teachers and encourage them to stay in the classroom:
1) Build a culture of mutual feedback
2) Protect teachers’ time for teaching
3) Establish clear career pathways for teachers
4) Establish practices that respond to the personal needs of teachers
“As a public charter school teacher, I celebrate the achievements of my school and many other charters in improving outcomes for urban students in particular,” says Allen. “I hope these recommendations will help our leaders hold on to more great teachers so we can make even bigger gains for students.”
The report is available online at www.teachplus.org.
Teach Plus is a national non-profit based in Boston whose mission is to improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers. Teach Plus runs three programs designed to place teacher leaders at the center of reform: Teaching Policy Fellows, the T+ Network, and T3: Turnaround Teacher Teams. The programs focus on demonstrably effective teachers who want to continue classroom teaching while also expanding their impact as leaders in their schools and in national, state, and district policy. Teach Plus began with 16 founding teachers from urban district and charter schools in Greater Boston. Since its inception as a non-profit in August 2009, Teach Plus has grown to a network of more than 8,000 solutions-oriented teachers in six major cities across the country. www.teachplus.org