Reassurance about staff retention
I am writing to share some facts about staff retention in our school system. Let me start by saying that we have had turnover in our school system in recent months, as we have had in past years. Teacher retention is not a challenge unique to Haverhill. According to DESE 13 % of Massachusetts teachers did not return to their school district from the SY 2018 to SY 2019 ( http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/statereport/staffingRetentionRates.aspx ). This number climbs in urban districts and hits an average teacher churn rate of about 20% across the nation.
Haverhill’s teacher turnover rate for SY 19 was 12% which is slightly less than the state average, and lower than many other urban school districts where long hours, limited resources and challenging classroom dynamics often increases teacher burnout. Over the past 5 years HPS teacher turnover rates have been:
SY 19 12%
SY 18 13%
SY 17 10%,
SY 16 16%
SY 15 15%
As you can see the rates fluctuate from year to year. People resign for a variety of reasons; pay and working conditions are certainly factors in teacher retention in Haverhill, across the state and the nation.
HPS has received a request for information by a local media outlet to compare data on teacher and administrator churn from Jan 1, 2018 to September 6, 2018 and from Jan 1, 2019 to September 6, 2019. The results are below:
FY19 FY18 Admin Admin Resigned 7 2 Retired 1 1 Total: 8 3 FY19 FY18 Teacher Teacher Resigned 43 37 Retired 18 15 Non-renewed 21 26 Total: 82 78
Please note that Haverhill presently employs 670 teachers in September 2018 HPS employed 663 teachers. The difference between the churn rates in these two samples are statistically insignificant and in-line with Haverhill’s data and data for school systems across the state.
This is not to say that teacher turnover is not a problem, teacher turnover impacts our schools and our children greatly and it must be addressed. There are many research based ways to battle teacher turnover. As a school system, we are continually reviewing our data and the relevant research to put into place impactful supports that will help to confront the problem. While our teacher turnover rate is presently average, we certainly want Haverhill to be better than average.
We have recently implemented strategies designed to support teacher retention including:
- a revised Professional Development system co-created by teachers and administration. This system will focus on the districts key levers for success while allowing for teacher voice and choice
- a revamped new teacher induction program in which we partner with Research for Better Teaching, a highly respected professional development organization dedicated to improving classroom teaching and school leadership
- a proposal for the upcoming teachers’ union contract that provides not only an improved wage scale but also reimbursement for graduate credit for our many veteran teachers who want to continue to learn and grow professionally.
Research shows that in addition to salary and mentorship, working conditions also support teacher retention. To improve teaching and learning conditions for our school community as a whole we have:
- embarked on a long-term class-size reduction effort
- implemented wide-spread facilities updates including roofing & boiler repairs, lighting updates, asbestos abatement, HVAC work, painting and general building maintenance for the health, safety and comfort of staff and students
- begun to infuse our schools with resources such as the addition and equitable distribution of counselors, coaches and interventionists
- added instructional and curricular materials including a one to one chrome-book initiative at the middle and high school, a new middle school social studies curriculum and a K -1 phonics program
- hired bilingual parent engagement specialists in each building to support parent engagement and communication.
Each of these improvements are designed to support both the working environment of our teachers and the learning outcomes of our students.
I appreciate the communities’ concern and advocacy and I thank you for taking the time to review this important data.
Margaret Marotta Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools