In an Orlando Sentinel article, Scott Maxwell cites alarming state records. Forty percent of Florida’s new teachers leave within five years. This rate is 15 to 20% higher than the national average, he reported. I found a U.F. report about charter school teacher attrition. Something is going wrong. We know that. Will the legislature listen?
Salaries are low; Florida’s teachers’ pay ranks 39th in the nation. Teachers are frustrated with the emphasis on testing and accountability that are used to punish rather than help struggling students and their schools. There is more to this story. Teacher dissatisfaction is certainly a factor. Which teachers are dissatisfied might be a surprise.
A study by the Alliance for Excellence in Education headed by former Governor Bob Wise from West Virginia argues for better support and evaluation systems for new teachers. In this study, eight percent of Florida’s first year teachers left the profession compared to 6.8% nationally. This was during the economic recession, and Florida was hit hard. Over five years, the rate just gets higher.
It occurred to me that this was not a new story. So, I began digging. I found a recent report from the University of Florida CAPE center. The evaluation of the goals of the federally funded charter schools grant program were:
- increase access to high quality charter schools for educationally disadvantaged children
- improve local district authorizer practices and capacity
- increase the number of high quality charter schools in Florida
- increase the academic achievement of charter school students
The results were:
- creation of rural charter schools was slow.
- charter school grant applications are declining perhaps because many areas are saturated with charters.
- dissemination of instructional best practices was good
- student achievement was a ‘mixed bag’. Achievement tended to be lower than in traditional public schools but improved over time except for sixth grade. High achieving charters tended to start out higher (indicating higher achieving students who enrolled).
- charter teacher attrition is typically higher (at least twice as high) than in traditional public schools.