Why Finding And Keeping Quality Teachers Matters So Much

Why Finding And Keeping Quality Teachers Matters So Much

This issue is timely for two reasons. First of all, the specter of impending teacher shortages, particularly in the areas of mathematics, science, foreign language, English as a Second Language (ESOL), and special education, means that schools will need to work harder to find and hire teachers in these areas, and will have to pay more attention to keeping the teachers they have. Secondly, the evidence that points to a direct connection between quality teachers and high student achievement is so compelling that schools should be putting more and more effort into making sure they find and keep the highest quality teachers.


The Process


The process of maintaining a quality staff has three distinct parts, and different strategies are necessary for each. The first part of the process is finding and hiring new high-quality teachers, the second part is keeping those new teachers, and the third part is keeping high-quality veteran teachers.


Finding New Teachers


Part of the recruitment process requires laying the appropriate foundation. Each school district should have a system that works toward making teacher selection efficient and reliable. This system should:


– identify the attitudes, behaviors, and skills that characterize the kind of teachers the district wants in the classroom;

– screen for those characteristics at every stage of recruitment;

– ensure that the hiring process complies with federal, state, and local laws;

– eliminate unproductive paperwork so that the best candidates have faith in the competence of the system recruiting them;

– reserve labor-intensive personal evaluation for only the most promising candidates; and

– validate the selection process to ensure that it predicts excellence in classroom and professional performance.


In addition to traditional recruiting at local job fairs, administrators should take full advantage of other recruitment tools, including collaborating with careers centers and schools or departments of teacher education at local universities, travelling to job fairs in other districts, and recruiting teachers from other states and countries.


Another, more long-term, solution is to recruit internally by encouraging substitute teachers and paraprofessionals to complete the training necessary to be a certified teacher. For some, this may mean attending a local community college, then completing the program at a college or university. Tuition funding, even if only partial, may enable some school staff members to become certified teachers.


Keeping New Teachers


It’s hard to overestimate the importance of support for new teachers. Although the first few years may always be the hardest, school leaders can put in place programs to help new teachers feel less stress and alienation.


These programs include the following:


– Providing early and effective back-to-school orientation. This orientation should include a workshop on classroom management, specific information about school and district policies, and get-acquainted activities among the new teachers.

– Holding support seminars for new teachers. These seminars may work best if release time is given for new teachers to attend them. The seminar topics should be developed based on the needs of the teachers at different times during the year. For example, before the first parent open house, have a seminar on communicating with parents, colleagues, and administrators.

– Creating a mentoring program. Mentors help to increase the new teacher’s competence and self-confidence by being available to answer questions, discuss problems, and model good practice.


Mentors can also help teachers find materials and supplies, and can provide examples of realistic classroom management plans.


Keeping Veteran Teachers


Although teacher retention in the first few years is crucial, paying attention to long-term teacher retention is also important. There are various measures that can help veteran teachers continue to feel challenged and rewarded by the teaching profession. These measures include:


– creating enhanced salary schedules for teachers who earn master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees, or adding merit pay or performance pay bonuses;

– encouraging teachers to become mentors or work with student teachers;

– providing opportunities for teachers to take on leadership responsibilities (on curriculum committees, for example); and

– designing and providing staff development with the experienced teacher in mind.


Improve The Quality Of The Teacher Labor Force


It seems like a simple and direct way to improve student learning and one now required on a vast scale by federal law. Each state must also have a plan for achieving annual increases in the percentage of highly qualified teachers, to ensure that all teachers of core academic subjects are fully licensed or certified.


But the practical implementation of the commonsense idea of hiring and retaining excellent teachers is not as simple as its theoretical base. Research links teacher effectiveness to a wide range of variables, from quantifiable measures, such as standardized test scores and college quality, to less-tangible measures, such as public speaking ability and enthusiasm.


To date, however, school boards, administrators, teachers, researchers, and state and national policymakers have been unable to reach consensus on a clear, consistent definition of high quality for teachers. Even if we manage to reach agreement on characteristics of high-quality teachers, policymakers at all levels likely will continue to debate the best means of enhancing those characteristics.


Finally, many districts have found it difficult to attract and retain enough qualified teachers, especially in particular fields such as special education or science — or in schools serving high percentages of low-income students who are most in need of good teaching.


Yet this is the job at hand. If we are to make significant progress in educating our youth, we must develop the skills of the existing teacher labor force and recruit high quality teachers for all of our students.


The Shifting Landscape


Recent changes in the demographics of student and teacher populations, as well as some recently enacted educational policies, are greatly complicating the national effort to improve teacher quality:


– Schools districts must cope with the realities of a rapidly aging teacher labor force. School districts will need innovative strategies to attract high-quality new teachers as teachers around the country approach retirement and withdraw from the labor force en masse.


– Teacher staffing problems are exacerbated by contemporary educational reform initiatives such as class size reduction. As a result, school districts have had to recruit additional teachers.


– Recent state and federal attention on educational outputs is changing the teaching profession. The standards and accountability movement has attempted to hold teachers responsible for changes in student achievement. These pressures may have transformed teaching into a less-attractive profession, making the recruitment of additional teachers even more difficult.

A New Wave of Teacher Compensation Reform


Reflecting the national pressure to increase student learning, policymakers at the state, local, and federal levels recently adopted a flurry of programs intended to attract new teachers and to improve the quality of existing teachers.


For example, a number of local school districts have instituted recruitment bonus policies for prospective teachers. Discussion and action have also taken place at the federal level, resulting in a number of initiatives designed to recruit additional high-quality teachers into the profession through housing and loan-forgiveness incentives.


Instead of augmenting starting salary, some local school districts and state governments have instituted merit pay plans to more radically change the way that teachers are compensated. These compensation plans link salaries to student achievement measures.


Another set of programs designed to recruit and retain high-quality teachers is composed of bonus plans enacted at the state level that reward entire schools rather than individual teachers for meeting or exceeding certain goals.


In a third set of initiatives, some state-level policymakers are focusing on improving teacher skills and eliciting greater effort in the classroom. For example, some policies encourage teachers to demonstrate additional knowledge and skills through credentialing organizations such as the National Board for Professional and Teaching Standards (NBPTS). In its National Board Certification program, teachers are evaluated on classroom effectiveness and rigorous standardized exams.


The Teacher Labor Market


Most education policy initiatives ultimately are crafted to produce conditions that result in higher levels of student learning — some through transforming teaching into a more attractive profession. Yet many have been developed without considering the significance of teacher labor market forces.



As a result, these policies may affect teacher quality in unintended and undesirable ways. For example, recent research shows that the decline in teacher quality has been greater for schools serving low-income or minority students.


Policy distortions such as this can be prevented with a more comprehensive approach to recruiting, retaining, and developing high-quality teachers. This requires an understanding of schools as institutions — and teachers as actors in those institutions — in the framework of the teacher labor market. An important piece of that framework is teacher compensation.


Teachers are fundamentally different from other school resources. Unlike textbooks, computers, and classroom facilities, teachers have preferences about whether to teach, what subject areas to teach, and the conditions in which they want to teach.


The character of the teacher labor market ultimately depends on the choices of current and potential teachers, the hiring decisions made by school officials, and the interactions between these two groups.


Teachers’ preferences begin with the courses they select as college students and extend through their decision about when to leave the labor force through retirement.


All of the complex choices made during a teacher’s career depend on a variety of factors such as work conditions and the relative wages of alternative occupations.


National, state, and local policymakers must understand how both teacher compensation and other labor market factors influence teachers’ choices, or they risk implementing policies that may not achieve their intended purpose.


Therefore, to determine the efficacy of the current compensation policies on the table—merit pay, school-level bonuses, and competency and contingency pay — it is imperative that we discuss teacher compensation within the analytical framework of the teacher labor market.


This perspective will provide policymakers with a greater understanding of existing programs and help ensure that new strategies will serve the purpose of increased student learning through higher-quality teachers.


Jeff C. Palmer is a teacher, success coach, trainer, Certified Master of Web Copywriting and founder of https://Ebookschoice.com. Jeff is a prolific writer, Senior Research Associate and Infopreneur having written many eBooks, articles and special reports.


Source: https://master331.medium.com/why-finding-and-keeping-quality-teachers-matters-so-much-1c7bcb43b53d

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