Thursday, February 16, 2006

Keeping 'Em In The Classroom

Duh! A "modest" pay increase and more professional support helps keep beginning teachers from quitting the classroom and seeking other lines of work:
A moderate salary raise for new teachers boosts the chances they'll stay in the profession, but mentoring programs and training are even more effective, according to a new report.

Providing just $4,400 more in annual pay increases the chances an elementary teacher would stay by 17 percent, according to the report released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Teachers who were part of the state's Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program were 26 percent more likely to stay in teaching, according to the study, "Retention of New Teachers in California." The program costs the state about $3,370 per teacher.

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which co-sponsors the beginning teacher program, has found similar results, said its director, Mike McKibbon.

"It makes an enormous difference in setting up the first two years as place to learn and grow and get better, rather than the way we used to do it, which was kind of a rite of passage," McKibbon said.

Still, money plays a role. The report said teachers in better-paid districts were less likely to leave their jobs or transfer to another district.

The policy institute said nearly a quarter of new hires in California leave the profession within five years, a rate that will make it even harder to fill an anticipated teacher shortage of 100,000 in the next decade.

Unless the state does something to reduce the departures, about one-fourth of new hires will simply be replacing other recently hired teachers who have left public schools. That will leave fewer experienced, highly qualified teachers, the report says.

The report's authors used data that tracked teachers who earned their California teaching certification during the 1990s.

The support program for beginning teachers received about $88 million in state funding this year and has been supported by Democrats and Republicans, McKibbon said.
"To their credit, they've seen beginning teachers as a place for investment," he said.

Other programs to integrate teachers also have shown promise, such as internships in hard-to-staff schools and a program that moves teachers' aides into programs where they can earn a teaching credential. That program has about 2,500 students this year, McKibbon said.

Earlier this month, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said he will sponsor legislation to spend $53 million for teacher coaches in the state's lowest-performing schools.

He also encouraged financial incentives to recruit teachers to work in those schools and said the state should reopen teacher-recruitment centers that were closed during budget cuts several years ago.
Classroom teachers in our district here in California's "Imperial" Valley haven't received any sort of pay increase in over four years. In fact, due to ever-rising insurance premiums, my paycheck is now less than it was in 2001. Administrators, on the other hand, have received pay increases each of the past four years. These increases have been greater than the rate of inflation. Top-level district administrators have even received yearly "cost-of-living adjustments" in addition to their pay raises.

Who says that it always flows downhill?

As for that predicted "teacher shortage," I've been hearing about an "impending" teacher shortage on-and-off ever since I began my classroom service 14 years ago.

It never seems to actually materialize.

What invariably happens is the state loosens credentialing requirements in order to flood the market with teachers who have little or no training or experience. The result is that there is an adequate supply of warm bodies in classrooms and reduced pressure on districts to increase salaries in order to attract classroom talent.
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