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Louisiana teacher attrition holding steady

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MONROE, La., (KNOE 8 News) - The Department of Education has released an analysis of teacher hiring, retention, and departure data covering the last three years, contradicting recent assertions that teacher attrition has spiked statewide. State data show that attrition rates among teachers have experienced minimal to no variation over the last three years. In the 2009-10 school year, 11 percent of teachers left the classroom; 12 percent left in both 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. Furthermore, new teacher hiring has increased statewide in recent years.

The data also demonstrate that the state has seen success in retaining and promoting its most effective teachers; teachers who are leaving the profession have tended to be less effective than those who remain. Findings show that among teachers measured through the "value-added" statistical process over the past three years, those who remained in the workforce the following school year were more likely to be "highly effective" than were those who exited (19 percent to 16 percent, respectively). Those teachers exiting the workforce were more likely to be "ineffective" than were those who stayed (12 percent to 8 percent, respectively).[i] In addition, recent studies released at meetings of the American Economic Association and reported on in Education Week, show no academic harm from the early retirement of teachers.

Superintendent John White said, "It is important that teachers are staying in our classrooms at normal historical rates. But more important, the data show that our schools are keeping and promoting our best teachers, which is the issue we should be focused on."

The report also highlighted that Louisiana teachers moving into administrative positions were more likely to be high performers; 27 percent of effective teachers who left the teaching ranks over the past three years did so to accept a promotion to an administrative position, compared to 5 percent of less effective teachers who left for similar roles.

The Teacher Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) recently reported an increase in the rate of teacher retirements. Yet "retirement" covers only employees with longer tenures and with specific rights to benefits. Because decisions regarding retirement for such employees involve calculating these benefits, such employees choose to end their careers for a variety of reasons, many of them financial. The Department's data disproves that teacher attrition is peaking, also noting that the number of teaching licenses granted to new teachers in the state actually has increased over the past several years from 3,005 new licenses issued in 2008-09 to 3,136 in 2010-11.

"The data show that we do not have a statewide shortage of teachers and that applications for new positions are up," said White . "Equally important, the Compass system focuses on identifying, developing, and keeping great teachers. That is a big change, and it is working."

Finally, the report emphasizes the Department's work to provide instructional tools and resources to teachers, to empower districts to design compensation systems that reward high performing teachers, and to review recruitment, preparation, and certification policies and practices. All of these initiatives were framed within the Department's overall goal of creating an environment of high standards and increased professional support and pathways to success for both educators and students.

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