Teacher Retention a Critical National Problem

Vicky Dill & Delia Stafford
Haberman Foundation

It is a commonly known that 50% of the new teachers leave the profession within the first five years of teaching. In addition, young people studying to be teachers rarely know if they will succeed as a teacher. There has been no effective way of predicting whether or not one individual will be successful in teaching and will remain a teacher for an entire lifetime.

As the number of able teachers continues to decline, there is a severe need for more teachers in many fields and geographical areas. Teachers are needed to meet the classroom needs of disadvantaged children and the accountability standards of various states in particular, teachers are needed to narrow the achievement gap between high and low socioeconomic students.

To further add to the critical need to retain teachers is the requirement of the federal "No Child Left Behind Act" that every classroom have a "a highly qualified" teacher by school year 2005-2006. Here we are in 2008 and the goal has not been achieved.This requirement applied to all teachers, including special education teachers.

The cost of teacher turnover is unusually high and deprives our schools of the needed personnel resources. The impact of the low teacher retention can be devastating to a school district. Example.1)Let's say between 1998 and 2001, a district lost 3,907 teachers.(2) At an estimated cost of 20% of the annual salary of a first year teacher,(3) or $7400. per teacher.(4) the district would have to spend nearly $30 million dollars to replace teachers who left between 1978 and 2001. More shocking is the fact that nearly a third of the these teachers could be new hires, costing the district more that 9.6 million.

The problem of teacher attrition is costly; it is even more damaging to the educational development of students, especially low income and minority students. In schools with75 % or more minority, economically disadvantaged, or Hispanic, the turnover rate exceeded 20 percent last year. In schools determined to be least effective the turnover rate was more than 40 percent.

The task of teacher recruitment and teacher retention is, therefore, a critical national problem. We not only need more teachers, we also need better teachers. Teachers must be selected not only on the basis of their academic credentials, but also on the likelihood that they will remain in the profession long enough to make an impact. A possible effective solution is the Haberman Star Selection Process.

Dr. Martin Haberman is a teacher educator who is committed to determining the attributes of successful teachers. He has studied teachers in school districts around the country for more than 30 years and has reached the conclusion that there is a third important attribute, in addition to content knowledge and pedagogy, which leads to success in the classroom. This area is the capacity to build relationships with children, parents and school leaders is the dimension that is the best predictor of teacher retention.

Dr. Haberman has developed an interview process that elicits responses regarding the following mid-range functions: (1) persistence, (2) organization and planning, (3) value of student learning, (4) theory to practice, (5) teaching at risk students, (6) approach to students, (7) surviving in a bureaucracy, (8) explaining teacher success and (10) fallibility. The responses of teacher applicants are compared with the responses of successful "star" teachers. The process, which has been researched and validated, can predict teacher success with a high degree of probability.

Many testimonials from school districts that have employed the Haberman Star Teacher Selection Process are now coming forth.

Witness the following letter, dated October 21, 2001, from Dr. Fred Chesek, Manager of the Academy of Professional Development of the Teachers for Chicago .

. Have we been successful in our selection? Widely accepted national averages show between 60 and 70% of certified teachers after college never either begin teaching or quit within five years. The more challenging the school and the higher the need, the higher the teacher turnover. Using the Star Teacher Selection Interview exclusively, we have turned those percentages on their heads. Since 1991 we have had more than six thousand applicants, but have selected only a little over 900 that have passed the interview. Of these, 82% are still teaching in a Chicago school while 70% are still at the same school where they served their internships.

The Star Teacher Selection Process, if used along with traditional methods of reviewing teacher applicant data, can over time, reduce the time and money spent on teacher recruitment. If teacher retention can be increased from 60% to 85% the principal will be free to spend more time developing educational programs and will have to expend less time re-staffing the school.

The benefits of the Star Teacher Selection Process are many:

• Cost Advantages . The cost to replace a teacher in Texas is approximately 20% of the teacher's salary. Replacement cost include the cost of advertising, recruiting, processing applications, criminal background checks, interviewing, orientation and training. The cost of about $400.00 per teacher is already a significant savings on recruitment and it reduces or eliminates many of the other tasks required to replace a teacher.

• Time Advantages . Principals are already burdened by time constraints and do not have the time to conduct an aggressive recruitment campaign on their own. The Haberman Star Teacher Interview will dramatically limit the time necessary to review and interview candidates sine principals will need to review far fewer applicants.

• Scope . Because of the Haberman Foundation website and the on-line pre-screener is accessible to any applicant with internet access. This widens the applicant pool and allows school principals to consider applicant from anywhere in the world.Further,with teleconferencing , a principal could access a teacher candidate from anywhere in the US or abroad.

• Communication . The same advantages which allow the Haberman Star Teacher Recruitment Process to interview applicants from great distances can permit principals to communicate with applicants or new hires. Information, including orientation material can be provided far in advance. Pre-service activities can be done in advance. When the applicant arrives at the school site they will be prepared to start teaching.

We know what the problems are; the large numbers of teachers who leave the teaching profession and the prohibitive cost, both in financial and educational resources. Schools need a solution. The Haberman Star Teacher Selection Process can be a major component of that solution. It has shown itself to be a highly predictive of teacher retention as well as performance in classrooms all across America . It is a process that will assist school districts select teachers who will stay in teaching and work well with the student populations they serve, and save the limited financial resources.

The use of the Haberman Star Teacher Interview Process will go a long way to insure the "No Child is Left Behind" has meaning for those who need it most. America 's poor and disenfranchised children.


Published April 14, 2008


April 14th, 2008

Delia Stafford-Johnson President & CEO of The Haberman Educational/

Columnist EducationNews.org

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