Education Chat

Chat Transcript: Finding and Keeping Qualified Teachers: The HR Perspective

The president of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators and Director of Personnel and the chief executive officer for human resources, New York City schools, discuss innovative practices in teacher recruitment.
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Finding and Keeping Qualified Teachers: The HR Perspective

About the guests:

  • Chuck White, president of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators and Director of Personnel and Curriculum of the Silver Falls School District in Oregon; and
  • Elizabeth Arons, chief executive officer for human resources, New York City schools.

Kathryn Doherty, Education Week (Moderator):
District and school administrators and human resources directors are on the front lines of implementing the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. Among other things, the federal law requires that all teachers in the core subjects be “highly qualified” in every subject they teach by the end of the 2005-06 school year.

For this afternoon’s TalkBack Live chat, Education Week wanted to focus on how school and district administrators around the nation are answering this challenge to identify, recruit, and retain highly qualified staff? How are districts making sure their existing teacher workforce is getting the training needed to meet the “highly-qualified” requirements? And what strategies and innovations are necessary to recruit new skilled teachers in a competitive environment?

We’d like to invite your comments and questions on this important topic. We’re pleased to have two special guests for this session. Chuck White is the president of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, as well as director of personnel and curriculum for the Silver Falls School District in Silver Falls, Oregon. Elizabeth Arons is chief executive officer for human resources for New York City School.

Thanks for joining us. Let’s move on to questions...

Question from Matthew McDermott, Teacher, Frederick Douglass High School, Baltimore:
Current legislation such as NCLB has pushed for raising the standards by which we gauge qualified teachers. Has this indirectly handicapped schools’ hiring efforts by placing school districts in competition with a corporate world that’s capable of paying these highly qualified candidates more? Moreover, are school districts being presumptious when they assume that candidates will eschew financial gain (and less stress) for the satisfaction of shaping young (yet sometimes reluctant) minds?

Elizabeth Arons:
we have found that while financial aspects of a career are important, they are not the most important motivator. most teachers want to make a difference in the lives of children. If they truly feel valued - that they are making a difference in a real learning environment with the right support - then job satisfaction is very high. That is not to say we shouldn’t be committed to higher salaries when they are needed, but most people choose teaching because they have a motivation to “make the world a better place.”

Question from Joe Nolan, Asst. Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania:
Are you requiring your Special Education teachers to be dual certified? What about the Special Education teachers working with children with severe disabilities in a self contained environment?

Elizabeth Arons:
New York State is headed in that direction. One of the most difficult aspects of NCLB is precisely this point. The government can mandate whatever they want, but that does not mean that we will suddenly have dually certified teachers. If we can’t get enough special ed certified teachers as it is, what makes them think that we will be able to get dually certified special ed teachers? And what are they supposed to be dually certified in? Math and Science and English and Social Studies? It makes no sense for a self- contained classroom. For severe disabilities, if the students are not diploma-bound, then the teacher is not required to be dually certified.

Question from Janice Zmrazek, Program Coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction:
What advice can you offer regarding recruiting to a small rural district that has only an administrator and principal, no HR office, and that has no decent housing affordable to a new teacher?

Chuck White:
This is a tough situation. I guess I would start with the members of the school board and members of the community and brainstorm possible solutions. My goal would be to try to generate clean affordable housing that would be made available to the new teacher for a period of time or until they could establish themselves in the community. In my mind you are talking about basic needs which must be met by the community and the school district.

Question from Robert Pallone, Government Employee:
Define “highly-qualified.” With new charter schools, and vouchers for children to attend private and parochial schools, it seems that the “pool” of teachers dwindles further. They will all be recruiting teachers. There are not enough teachers now...let alone “highly-qualified.” Where do you expect to find these “highly-qualified” teachers? My experience tells me that paper “highly-qualified,” does not necessarily translate into classroom success.

Elizabeth Arons:
The government’s definition of HQ is that the teacher must be fully certified in the subject/grade levels he/she is teaching, and must have passed rigorous tests that show subject matter competency. In some states, HQ can be reached by either taking tests in a subject field, or by accumulating points based on number of years of teaching experience and other related-coursework. Private and parochial schools who do not receive federal funding (Title I) are not held to the same standards. We do not expect to find any more teachers coming from the universities and colleges that currently are -- mandating legislation does not mean the supply of teachers will increase. So I do not know how the federal government honestly expects the states/localities to meet this mandate by 2006.

Question from Jeremy Ayers, Research Assistant, Alliance for Excellent Education:
We know that almost half of new teachers leave the profession altogether in the first five years. So our investment in recruiting is not paying off. States and districts have tried to retain teachers with induction programs. How can we use the resources of NCLB to strengthen new teacher induction? And what other federal efforts can we implement to help keep high-quality teachers in classrooms where they are needed most?

Elizabeth Arons:
Title II and the NCLB legislation clearly supports using federal funds to support new teacher induction. Here in NY, we are moving to a full-time mentor model for all teachers new to the profession. We are planning a 17:1 ratio and will be training all our new mentors (over 300) this summer. The same mentors will run groups of their mentees after school once a month that will constitute their requirement for professional development in the first year. We will align all of this work with the Santa Cruz model (CA), who will be training our mentors this year. New teachers tell us that high-quality mentoring is about the most important thing we can do for them in Year 1, so your question is right on target.

Question from Kenneth Ondracek, Teacher (to-be), University of Georgia:
“Highly Qualified” seems to resonate with subject knowledge. I realize the importance of subject knowledge, but what other components of teaching (the top two or three)do supervisors, personel directors, and principals, consider in a “Highly Qualified” applicant.

Elizabeth Arons:
In some states (Virginia, for example), highly qualified can also be assessed by performance evaluations - actual teaching performance in the classroom, in addition to subject matter competency. Highly qualified applicants in my book need to be extremely committed to student learning -- they have an attitude towards students that “I am here for you and I will not give up, even if you seem to be giving up on yourself.” They need to be extremely collaborative with their colleagues, supportive of the mission of the school/school system, willing to go the extra mile to make sure students learn. Subject matter competency is important, but it doesn’t take the place of these other competencies.

Question from Anette, future educator:
As a married mother of two young children with a BSBA in Accounting, I’m excited to answer the calling to be an elementary ed. teacher. Due to various factors, I’m pursuing a teacher’s certificate rather than another degree. I also have the hope to pursue Masters programs later to be a future administrator. How do administrators currently see a teacher’s certificate vs. a degree vs. teaching experience references when hiring? Does it differ with private vs. public schools?

Chuck White:
It’s my sense that principals will initially look at your certificates and degrees as a preliminary screening process. However, their primary focus will be on your teaching experience and how well your references support the charactieristics they are looking for in the position they are hoping to fill. This would be the same process for public or private schools.

Question from Jose Lopez, Professor, California State Univ.:
What strategies can districts employ to ensure that credentialed and experienced teachers are assigned to the neediest schools?

Elizabeth Arons:
We should be developing career ladders and opportunities for teachers at high-needs schools -- these opportunities should carry additional and substantial $$ and also duties and responsibilities, such as mentoring new teachers, etc. Denver has an interesting plan that is working well for them, and possibly more of these pay incentive plans can be made available only at the neediest schools.

Comment from Celeste Simons, University of Texas at Austin, Doctoral Student:
In Texas, we are facing problems with teacher shortages and high turnover rates, and the legislature has created temporary certifications to fill the gap - but who qualifies as “highly qualified?” I have a BA in English, an MA in Speech, and almost a PHD, 7 years of teaching experience, 60+ hours of observations and student teaching in schools K-12, and around 20 hours of pedagogy courses for all levels. I would not be considered a candidate for certification, however, because these things did not happen in a single BA teacher certification program, and I am not in one of the “shortage” disciplines. In spite of the fact that all I have ever wanted to do is teach, I will never be a “highly qualified teacher” in the Texas public schools because I can’t get certified.

Question from Sam Klein, Teacher, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA:
Are programs such as Teach for America and Troops to Teachers making a difference in getting teachers into the classroom? And, are those teachers staying for more than a year or two?

Elizabeth Arons:
How are things going in Fairfax (one of my former employers for 17 years)-- yes and no. Over 60% of Teach For America candidates leave after the second year, making the investment in their master’s degrees a loss for us, along with the turnover itself. My overall feeling is that the program never really billed itself a long-term solution, so while these programs make a difference in the short run, they are not successful as a long-term solution.

Question from Susan Moore Johnson, Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education:
How can school districts that have contracts guaranteeing seniority-based transfer rights ensure that the best possible match is made between a new teacher and her position?

Elizabeth Arons:
We can’t. We need to work collaboratively with the unions to review transfer policies that do not allow some amount of matching with the actual faculty and needs of the school. New York went to a “school-based option” plan several years ago that gives more flexibility to a school team - principals and teachers - to make those “best matching” decisions. It’s a great step in the right direction, and 500 of our 1,200+ schools have applied to be “School-Based Option” schools.

Comment from C.R. Gerard (Teacher and former principal) Alhambra School District:
I can’t help but remember my first long-term HR director who hired based on her cronies political agenda. Thank goodness , those of us in the profession of teaching are expected to qualify our educational experience against the rhetoric of department heads that keep their jobs in accordance with “who” they know as opposed to how well they’re hiring benefits the educational process.

Question from Dauna Howerton, graduate student, The University of Texas at Austin:
Recently school district personnel told me they screen applicants before interviewing using a tool from Gallup Organization. Are there a variety of tools? Is there research to support effectiveness of screening tools? Do tools like the Gallup screen help to find applicants aligned with beliefs appropriate to teach diverse students or beliefs that support dominant culture?

Chuck White:
Gallup does provide school district with tools to screen applicants before interviewing. The tools have been refined over the years and are continually being improved. There is research to support their effectiveness. The refinements made in recent years are designed to identify applicants with beliefs to teach diverse student populations and the variety of learning style students bring to the classroom.

Question from Ann Pappas, Teacher, Deer Creek Elementary, Crowley, Texas:
How does one get to be a recruiter for teachers?

Chuck White:
If your question is targeted toward a school district and recruiting teachers, many times these folks come from the teacher ranks since they understand what it takes to be a teacher in their school district.

In other instances, districts may contract with a teacher recruiting company that would hire teacher recruiters to develop a pool of teachers for a particular teaching position. In that case, you might work as a private contractor.

Question from Maricel Deris, Elem Teacher, Grace Christian Academy,:
Do you hire foreign teachers to teach in your district? If yes what are the requirements that they need to have?

Elizabeth Arons:
We have over 300 international teachers each year that come to the district. The primary countries are Spain, the Phillippines, and Canada, but we also go to Puerto Rico and have gone to the Carribbean in past years. Because of the difficulty in adjustment, the built-in turnover (visas expire), the cost of obtaining the visas, and the cap the federal government has recently put on H-1B visas, we are looking at lessening our need for international recruits and focusing more on internal recruitment. To qualify as an international recruit, we are seeking critical shortage fields -- math, science, English as a second language, etc.

Question from Javier Melendez, Senior Director for Recruitment and Retention, Orange County Public Schools (Orlando,Florida):
One of the biggest challenge we are experiencing nationwide is the distribution of talented and qualified candidates.There are regions with an oversupply of candidates to fill a moderate number of vacancies.Conversely, there are districts, such as ours, growing by leaps and bounds and in need of large numbers of qualified candidates. What national strategy can be implemented to proactively promote a balanced and suitable distribution of candidates? Would AASPA consider taking a leadership role on formulating such strategy?

Chuck White:
What you’ve described is very accurate. The distribution of teachers and actually where they are trained tends to be in concentrated areas around the country. The challenge for districts such as yourselves is to (1) get the word out that you have jobs available, (2)present your district as an attractive and exciting opportunity for teacher candidates to move to Florida, and (3) then deliver with a district support system that nurtures teachers and encourages them to stay.

I would be willing to raise your question question at the AASPA Executive Board level for further discussion and include others such as AAEE to consider such a leadership role.

Comment from Adam Marcia,teacher,University School in Shaker Heights, Ohio:
Independent schools do a majority of their hiring from January to March and traditionally pay less than public schools. Teachers in private schools tend to sign on with a one year contract in the early spring in order to have the security of a teaching position for the upcoming year. Ok What is my point? It was recently stated on the major news networks that higher paying school districts were attracting the most qualified teachers (better teachers?) because they were paying more. The fact is that the best teachers are most likely teaching in independent schools because of the quality of life and the autonomy within the curriculum. If public schools want to attract and/or wean some of these “professors” away from the private schools, they will need to change their hiring practices so that they can lure,entice, and be manage to offer young and/or experienced private school teachers by offering them contracts before they are scooped up by independent schools. It seems that the paper work, present hiring systems, and piling up of unread resumes bar many of my colleagues from ever even being contacted from applications they’ve submitted over the years. We’re here! Come and get us and make an offer before another plate of fine cuistine is set before us!

Question from mary larkin, westchester institute for human services:
For Elizabeth Arons: How important are alternative certification programs to NYC’s effort to obtain qualified teachers? What has been NYC’s experience w/alternatively certified teachers and has NYC collected any data on this issue?

Elizabeth Arons:
The alternative certification programs have been critical to meet our needs. Since the universities/colleges have not produced sufficient certified teachers in shortage fields, we have relied almost exclusively on our Teaching Fellows program. We produced 2,500 last year (of the 9,000 teachers hired) and are expecting another 2,000 this year. Our problem has been a higher turnover rate for these fields, especially with the Teach for America cadre.

Question from John Stallcup, Ed activist, Napa CA:
My grandmother taught on the Navajo reservation in the 50-70s. Her school loans were forgiven, her housing subsidized, her graduate school was paid for, and she had a tax break on her income. Why isn’t this program now used for inner city schools and to reward hard to find professions like mathematics teachers?

Elizabeth Arons:
Most of the large school districts have this type of program - NYC pays for certification up to $12,000 per teacher for every candidate who goes to graduate school in critical shortage fields such as math. Even with us producing up to 2,000 of these teaching fellows each year, we can’t get enough candidates willing to go into special education and math.

Question from Maisie McAdoo, Researcher, UFT:
For Ms. Arons, Can you talk about any teacher retention measures other than training and professional development that you think would be effective in NYC schools? Thank you

Elizabeth Arons:
I think teacher retention is everyone’s responsibility -- the other teachers in the building who can provide support and real assistance, the principal and assistant principal who can help in so many ways; the UFT chapter leader, the teacher center staff developer; the coaches -- it takes a village to support a new teacher, and all should participate. I also think the climate of the building is a factor - is everyone in the building warm and welcoming, or is the climate distant and cold? Is there a good safety and security plan in place? Are the parents supportive, or difficult? All these factors contribute to a new teacher’s desire to stay or go. So - working with all the various components of our organization to support new teachers -- chapter leaders, principals, parent coordinators, etc. -- to make this an important issue, should be a priority.

Question from Bryan Luizzi, Assistant Principal, Whisconier Middle School:
Human resource philosophy often espouses, “Hire right, reward well” (Bolman & Deal, 1997). As educational institutions, we can do the former and find the right people for our jobs. What do you suggest we do to reward our teachers well, since monetary dispensation is obviously not an option?

Elizabeth Arons:
I’m not sure I agree that “monetary dispensation is not an option.” Our salary scales are all currently lock-step -- each year and each degree brings more money. But who says we have to stay that way? What if the same dollar amount was redistributed -- that salary raises were tied to other avenues, such as contribution to student achievement or teaching in high-needs areas, providing other leadership roles, or earning a critical shortage additional certification? If we restructured our salary scales, some teachers might earn $90,000 or more for a less-than-12-month job. That’s not a bad salary.

Question from Patricia Gaudreau, Doctoral Student, Virginia Tech:
There’s no doubt that students will benefit from a teacher who has proven content knowlege, but how can we factor in the affective pedagogy that inspires many learners to achieve as part of the HQ definition?

Elizabeth Arons:
This is a bit similar to a question earlier -- I agree - we should be looking at classroom performance to really determine HQ, but the NCLB legislation doesn’t seem to favor that approach. I see HQ as a minimum designation - school districts should then set standards and performance criteria that speak to the actual teaching itself.

Comment from Dr. Abha Gupta, Director, Reading Center at Old Dominion University, Virginia:
The upside of the legislation requiring highly qualified teachers is that it provides flexibility to states to determine their own criteria for ‘teacher qualification’ within the legislative parameters. The downside is that licensure requirements vary from state to state, thus the definition of ‘highly qualified’ will vary from state to state. The variables from state to state for determining teacher qualifications include: (1) licensure / certification requirements; (2) state adopted reading tests for graduating pre-service teachers; (3) passing cut-off scores in the state reading tests; (4) alterative criteria to demonstrate subject competency. A valid concern is that states could set up low cut-off scores for the State-wide reading test for pre-service and in-service teachers.

Many states do require teachers to pass standardized reading, writing and math tests. However, the states set their own passing score on the test which could be 20th percentile or lower in some states. Thus a teacher who is ‘highly qualified in one state is not highly qualified in another’. The ‘Yardstick’ to measure ‘teacher qualification’ varies.

Question from Anne Buck, Director, Round Lake Area Schoos, District 116:
Can you recommend any particular software applications that are best for online applications, that help disceminate teacher candidate information to administrators, and allow you to revise,update and store the employment status of the candidates as time goes? Is there one system that does it all?

Chuck White:
Many states have developed their online teacher application system that allow the decemination of teacher candidate information to districts and administrators. Some are more comprehensive than others. I would check with your state personnel folks to see if something like this is readily available. The one I’m most familiar with in Oregon is Teach Oregon Application System (TOAS)which you can research at

Comment from Nichole R., Preservice Teacher, Midway College, KY:
In response to the question about forgiving student loans and incentive programs... I have found, through my financial aid applications, that the federal government offers some incentives. Part of a loan may be forgiven and or the interst rate depending on where you get your first job and the time you stay there.

Question from Bryan Luizzi, Assistant Principal, Whisconier Middle School:
What are you feelings regarding teacher tenure? Do you think it’s fair for administrators to be held accountable for teacher performance when teachers themselves are not under the current tenure system? How would you recommend school leaders motivate staff who are comfortably resistant to change and growth due to their job security through tenure?

Elizabeth Arons:
Tenure has really never been the problem we make it out to be. The real problem is inadequate performance evaluation systems, lack of a common lens to look through to evaluate teaching performance, lack of quality training for supervisors who must conduct evaluations, and lack of courage in dealing with underperforming teachers. In some districts, unions have partnered with the district to overturn some of these problems -- check out the Peer Assistance programs in California, Ohio, and Montgomery County Maryland. If a teacher is tenured, these programs have been extremely effective in insisting on instructional improvement, or if not, dismissing the teacher. All of us can get complacent in our jobs - we should all be exposed to training, development, and new ideas to keep current, especially for principals and teachers.

Question from Ann Schuster, Elementary School Library Media Specialist, Blue Valley USD #229, Overland Park, Kansas:
As a newly selected National Board Certified Teacher (Early Childhood through Young Adult Library Media) and feeling that this was a most valuable process which greatly helped me to incorporate national and state standards into my teaching, I am wondering what districts and state boards of education, as well as the hierarchy of NCLB, are doing to promote this designation as one method of determining highly qualified teachers?

Elizabeth Arons:
Most districts have a differentiated pay scale for National Board teachers, and they support (at least partially) the cost of going for NB, which is about $2,000. Lobby your state legislature to provide funding for this noble cause! Maryland has a great plan that splits the cost of going for NB at 2/3 by the state and the other 1/3 from the local district. Some states also define HQ as equivalent to National Board status, providing you teach within the subject/grade level of your certification.

Comment from carol galic , former teacher, Don Riggio (k-8) [taking this year off to finish credential:
Just a comment. California has put me in a bind. They did not accept my anthropology and nursing degrees as entry into teaching saying these were not a broad enough backgrounds. Ca requires a very specific course of liberal studies to become credentialed or one must take an equivalency exam. (I passed without difficulty, but many take it 4 or 5 times and then barely pass.) Now I find I may not be able to return to my 7-8 math/science classroom without committing to another degree with a very narrow scope! What a schizophrenic system.

Question from Paul Rowland, Dean of the School of Education at The University of Montana:
It’s clear that higher education has a role to play with the “new to the profession” highly qualified teachers. What role do you envision for higher education in working with schools as they try to qualify the “not new to the profession” teachers as highly qualified and is there more to highly qualified than content coursework?

Chuck White:
I see the need for some districts to extend existing or develop new partnerships with higher education to stengthen teacher content knowledge and skills in the core content areas. However, many of the teachers who are not new to the profession who have developed the content area and skills necessary and need a mechanism to verify these knowledge and skills should be able to become highly qualified under the HOUSSE. If this is not possible in your state, then I would encourage personnel professionals contact your state department of education and ask the question, why?

Question from Patricia A. Tucker, SFC, US Army:
What is your opinion on the Troops to Teachers Program? Specifically, will you address how the improved requirements for teaching at an elementary school level impacts this program?

Elizabeth Arons:
I have had success with the Troops program, but overall, not enough candidates are available to really make a difference. Also, personalities have to match, as students do not come in neat packages always at attention and ready to learn! But when you get a high-quality Troops candidate with the right personality (committed to students, lots of flexbility), they usually do extremely well in the classroom. If they wish to train to be an elementary teacher, it will usually take them longer than a secondary program, because of all the requirements.

Comment from Becky Stoppel, Instructor, Holcomb Middle School:
I do believe that most people who go into teaching are not there for the money. We are in the people business, and want to nurture our students and help them reach their potential. However, realistically, teachers are not paid enough money for what they are being asked to do. Our jobs lag far behind other career fields which require less schooling. Something is wrong with this picture. Teachers are leaving because they are finding that they have got to have more money to live and to prepare for a retirement. There are no guarantees that social security, or KPERS is going to be anywhere in sight. I believe if salaries took a drastic raise, education would see the “best and brightest” coming out of the woodwork to compete for teaching positions. Our nation puts a tremendous worth on its children, but it seems to me, our teachers are at the bottom of the food chain in the perspective of “professional, college-educated careers.” People are few and far between, in the powers that be, that believe teachers should be paid well for one of the most important jobs in the world - to teach our children, and produce our future leaders.

Question from DT, NYC Teaching Fellow:
My experience in the urban education setting and my graduate studies about urban education both contribute to this question: Why is so much emphasis placed upon recruiting “highly qualified” teachers for urban schools --- when the reality is that teacher RETENTION is the main problem? To picture the situation, it is like pouring water in a bottomless bucket. The system (principals, support staff, school environments, etc.) must be changed to support these recruitment/retention efforts. Shouldn’t we be shifting the focus from teacher recruitment to fix the many serious reasons that new teacher retention is so low in urban schools?

Elizabeth Arons:
Both problems are important to address - recruitment AND retention. If you don’t recruit the “best and the brightest,” their chances for success (and thus retention) are much less likely. If they do not have the stamina and commitment from the beginning, retention is also less likely. It takes energy and commitment to teach in urban schools. I do agree that retention is also critical - several of my previous answers on our upcoming full-time mentoring program for Fall ’04 speaks to that. And retention is also about the whole school climate and the kind of support the new teachers gets once arriving in the building.

Question from Catarina A. da Silva, Doctoral candidate, National Board Certified Teacher, New York University:
How will New York’s changed funding policies (DeGrasse ruling) impact the proportion of expert teachers, like National Board Certified teachers, in the most challenging schools?

Elizabeth Arons:
I mentioned earlier that we need to have more career ladders and teacher leader opportunities at challenging schools. These opportunities should involve substantial additional pay as well as contributions the NBC teachers make, such as mentoring teachers or student teachers, piloting or writing new curriculum, etc. The Teacher Leadership Center at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore)is doing some very creative initiatives in this area.

Question from John Barbee, Professional Development Specialist, Beginning Educator Support Team:
Do you provide ongoing staff developement/induction training to first year teachers? If so, how/when is it delivered and what content is included?

Elizabeth Arons:
Up to this year, we have provided new teacher orientation (3 days of training in August) then have teachers taking courses throughout the year. This coming fall, we are aligning new teacher training with our full-time mentoring program. Our mentors will be trained to run “professional learning groups” with their mentees, and will handle real problems and issues. In addition, we hope to have an online PD component for new teachers entitled “TeachScape,” a rich program offering content-specific lessons, assessments, etc. So our new teachers will be getting a more comprehensive and consistent message through this program.

Comment from Cindy Chandler, Teacher, Charlotte Mecklenberg Schools:
It seems to me that more techniques (bonuses/incentives) are being used by school disticts to recruit teachers, rather than keeping them once they have them. Although nationwide media says otherwise, ask many teachers in CMS about their dissatisfaction, and look at turnover: 20(!) workdays per year, legitimate transfer requests denied, severe discipline problems which administration does not address consistently and these students think it’s a joke when we say we’re referring them, et al. I am seriously considering leaving this system for another, which will require a home relocation, or leaving teaching altogether.

Question from Bill Harshbarger, history teacher, Mattoon High School:
Ask students who the good teachers are and they invariably name someone who has connected to them, someone who likes students, knows how to lead them, and has the knowledge to understand ideas that, to students, are new and complex. In your search for “highly qualified” teachers, what filter have you put in place to expose these three personal, human, and professional qualities?

Elizabeth Arons:
Highly qualified is a minimum, not a maximum. Every district should put into place a performance evaluation system that has high standards for all teachers and should train those responsible for supervision to have a common language when they observe a teacher and provide quality feedback. Districts should also put into place substantive programs, collaboratively with the unions, that provide support for underperforming teachers and a process to remove them from the profession if they do not improve. I recommend looking at the National Board for Professional Teaching standards for a good place to begin looking a what high quality really means.

Comment from Bob Brewster,Consultant:
How to get and retain good teachers. The best will not stay around for 15 years to receive a living wage they could get immediately working in industry. How do we pay teachers equitably? Offer them a 12-month contract. The system can’t support paying a person for 12 months when they only work 10. This will require ‘4 season’ schools where a student attends three of the four. With ¼ of the students always on vacation school districts save millions enough to pay teachers that now work 12 months a living salary paid medical and treated like all other working people. This is the only profession that only works 10 months a year. (Except politicians and some other civil service workers.) Teacher unions have for years underpaid new teachers giving the lion share to older teachers. Example, In Brevard County, Florida teachers in pay grade 1-5 got $500 year increase when the district granted an overall 3%. Teachers going from 18-19 received over $4,000. Young teachers with a family can’t wait until their 18th anniversary to survive. Teacher unions are against ‘4 season’ schools because it would take fewer teachers but those qualified will stay and teach.

Question from John Herd, Student, Berry College:
Are teachers having to pull money out of their own pockets to become highly qualified? Are principals having to perform more selective staffing?

Elizabeth Arons:
No - most teachers are required to be certified upon entry and if not, many school districts have tuition reimbursement to help them get appropriate coursework. Principals have always been selective, but they are looking more closely to certification issues since NCLB was passed.

Comment from Dr. Abha Gupta, Director, Reading Center at Old Dominion University, Virginia:
On one hand, there are higher expectations of teachers’ knowledgebase and effectiveness, on the other, there is growing implementation of ‘scripted’ programs as ‘teacher-proof’ materials; while the former empowers the teachers the latter deskills the professionalism of the teacher. We need a dialogue to address these conflicting views among teachers, administrators, policy-makers and teacher educators.

Question from Larry Shamsid-Deen Assistant Director New Dimensions H.S ,Florida.:
I realize the forum is about hiring and retaining teachers, as if N.Y.C. does not need Administrators. My question:Why is there so much red tape to get through when applying for an administrators position in N.Y.C? 20 pages of applications a copy to every school you aply to and on an on. Why all the hoops ? I feel it discourages one from applying. Thank you

Elizabeth Arons:
Send me a resume - we have revised the whole process and it is much more user-friendly! You no longer have to fill out applications - your resume can get you into a pool once(providing you are eligible for NY state administrative certification)making you available for any or all vacancies that occur. We hope to get a one-time application online soon, but it’s not quite there yet. So for now, a resume would work and I will forward it to the right person.

Question from Beth McDonald, Research Staff Member & Instructor, NYU:
How do you respond to the reports by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, Richard Ingersoll at the University of Pennsylvania, Susan Moore Johnson at Harvard and others, telling us that we need to shift more resources to keeping teachers in our classrooms than attracting them in the first place? What is the impact on teacher retention of NCLB-driven high stakes accountability when it comes to vulnerable and struggling new teachers? How do we support them so they don’t leave in their first few years on the job?

Chuck White:
There is no doubt that new teachers entering the profession need mentoring and support from their school districts once they have been recruited and hired. The challenge in many states in past few years has been to find the resources to support these efforts. NCLB adds expectations and at the same time pulls at a district’s resources to focus on students and possibly away from supporting new teachers. However, districts need to be aware that Title II funds may be directed toward retention strategies to support new staff. New teachers need the support of veteran teachers to continue in the profession and not leave after the first few years. The challenge is everyone is being asked to do more with less.

Comment from Breta Blackmon, Regional Director of Recruitment and Selection, KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program):
While Teach for America and Troops to Teacher enjoy some success in keeping teachers in their classrooms, KIPP Schools have been extremely successful in creating environments in which teachers want to remain. Each KIPP School is responsible for developing its own curriculum and culture, two primary drivers of our success with teachers. KIPP Schools are not only autonomous but they are founded on KIPP’s proven model of more time on task and high expectations for all (school leaders, teachers, students, and parents). We are always looking for teachers and would like to hear from those of you who are relentlessly dedicated to every child’s success.

Question from Sanford E Lake, Assistant in Teacher Certification Policy, New York State Education Department:
(1) Have either of you noted any appreciable difference in the aggregate between the performance of credentialed teachers hired through the approved teacher preparation program route and the transcript evaluation route?

(2) What efforts are being made to enhance the pool of qualified teachers by recruiting more mature men and women, with work experience in the public and private sectors? What private and/or public support is provided to enhance and fund the transition period between the former job and the period during which certification/ licensure to teach is being attained?

(3) How might corporate America better underwrite public education with respect to enhancing teacher retention?

Elizabeth Arons:
1) we have not analyzed this. would be interested to know if anyone else has; 2) our alternative certification programs draw a number of “second career” applicants, as do many similar programs across the country. Usually these programs are hard to expand, because people are going from 12-month careers to 10-month careers, and there is invariably a pay cut associated with the shorter work year; 3) I am not I understand the question - corporate America already underwrites education through tax dollars, but I do see a number of foundations who are supporting projects in mentoring new teachers, and that’s a good start.

Question from Karen Evans, Staff Development Coordinator:
The Future Teachers Of America organization, which I belonged to in high school, was instrumental in my decision to become a teacher providing much informational support for club members. Does such an organization still exist, and would there be a possible benefit in having recruitment outreaches at a level earlier than our current college years?

Chuck White:
Yes. Students is high schools around the country still are involved in this organization. I believe it is still very positive in creating an opportunity for a student to try on the teaching profession. The majority of students I’m aware of in my school district have gone on to become teachers.

Question from Maisie McAdoo, Researcher, United Federation of Teachers:
I would like to rephrase a question I submitted earlier to Ms. Arons. In New York City, almost half of teachers leave the system in their first five years. Aside from the once-a-month mentoring that is designed for brand new teachers in NYC, what strategies are you looking at for retaining teachers who are past their initial teaching year?

Elizabeth Arons:
I talked alot about TeachScape, an online professional development product that is rich in instructional content and strategies. We are hopeful to find funding to purchase this online availability for our new teachers. Also, we are in the process of developing a math support program with CUNY for second year teachers, but in general, we have to fund the first year teacher effort before we can begin to support the second-year teacher. Wish we had more $$ available for that.

Question from M. White, Language Arts Specialist/Bilingual, Rodriguez Elementary:
I am currently acquiring my Principal’s Certification. However, I have recently realized that once I obtain an Administrative position, I can no longer obtain a bilingual stipend from my duistrict nor am I eligible to receive a forbearance on my school loans. While I realize that we have a critical teacher shortage, it appears that we are also penalizing those of us who have career aspiritations in the Educational profession. What are your thoughts on teachers who want to move up the educational career ladder?

Chuck White:
We need capable teachers to move up the ladder as many administrative positions are also difficult to fill. The challenges are different than in the classroom, but also rewarding.

Comment from DT, NYC Teaching Fellow:
My experience in the urban education setting and my graduate studies about urban education both contribute to this question: Why is so much emphasis placed upon recruiting “highly qualified” teachers for urban schools --- when the reality is that teacher RETENTION is the main problem? To picture the situation, it is like pouring water in a bottomless bucket. The system (principals, support staff, school environments, etc.) must be changed to support these recruitment/retention efforts. Shouldn’t we be shifting the focus from teacher recruitment to fix the many serious reasons that new teacher retention is so low in urban schools?

Question from Andrea Bolan, Grad Student, UW-Madison:
How tightly linked are teacher salaries and states’ ablilities to recruit and retain HQTs? Have any states shown difficulties in meeting NCLB requirements because they cannot offer competitive salaries in comparison to other states or careers?

Chuck White:
I’m not specifically aware of this situation, but it is possible. Salaries are an important factor why teachers move from one location to another, but not normally the primary factor.

Comment from Josiah Brown, Associate Director, Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute:
Re: curricular and professional development for existing teachers (both new and experienced teachers). For the possible interest of others, below is a link to one initiative which brings school districts together with the sciences and the humanities faculties of colleges and universities:

Question from Luis Pratts, Principal at Aldine Middle School:
What strategies could a principal use to recruit ESL and Bilingual Education Teachers?

What strategies could you use to retain ESL and Bilingual education Teachers?

Elizabeth Arons:
This is a critical shortage area that universities and colleges have not been able to produce in sufficient numbers. The best bet is for the district to partner with a local university to invite paraeducators - often who are local and bilingual -- to train to be teachers. We produce about 100 ESL and Bilingual teachers each year through this approach. The district can also offer tuition reimbursement for bachelors’ degrees for paraeducators who then train to be teachers. “growing your own” programs are about the only way to address this shortage, and it is very expensive.

Question from Katherine Van Gessel, T & D Coordinator, Pre-Service:
Under the No Child Left Behind Act, will school districts be required/encouraged to hire more Master level teachers?

Elizabeth Arons:
No - unless the state requires it, NCLB does not require a Master’s degree.

Question from Paul Rowland, Dean, School of Education, The Unviversity of Montana:
Since definitions of highly qualified are state specific what will be the impact on teachers who move from state to state? Will this slow down their ability to become hirable?

Chuck White:
Good question. My sense is it will take more planning on the part of any educator moving from one state to another since they may be highly qualified in one state and not another. It could definitely slow down the process.

Kathryn Doherty, Education Week (Moderator):
A number of folks have written in because they are interested in finding jobs or are looking for candidates for jobs. I thought I would take this as an opportunity to mention Education Week’s efforts to provide an online job site. It is called Agent K-12. You can access it easily from the website. It is a place for job-seekers to search for jobs nationwide or post their resumes. And it is a place where employers can come to search for highly-qualified candidates.

Comment from Lynda Kerr, National Board Certified Teacher, Art, and Doctoral Candidate, Clayton County Schools:
Comment: What IS more important than salary in retaining teachers? Research shows it it EFFICACY, the power to get the job done. This would encompass the teacher’s influence on the curriculum, parameters of discipline, such as when a teacher can have a student removed, attitudes of administrators toward teachers, and the power to use creativity. End-of-course testing and “teacher-proof” materials are detrimental to efficacy, and will result in a non-creative teaching force.

Question from Lev ABRAMOV, Manager, The Schiffman Institute Ltd (teacher training institute, online courses):
Teachers are severely underpaid and overworked. Do you believe that a better pay and improvement of work conditions is the main prerequisite for keeping better teachers on the job and getting a chance to enhance their performance? Or can you point at stronger incentives?

Elizabeth Arons:
It depends how you compare professions. My daughter (27) is in the television production field and works 12 months, 12 hour days, for slightly more $$ than a beginning teacher. My other daughter is an attorney in a advocacy group and makes about the same as a beginning teacher in a 12-month, 13 hour day. I know how hard teachers work - do not get me wrong - and I deeply appreciate the stress and the constancy of the job. But there are tremendous rewards as well. It really depends on how you define your life and what rewards are important. Part of our analysis should be looking at whether teaching should be a 10-month job. If it were 12-month, pay would be very comparable to the corporate world. During the summer, teachers could teach summer school, participate in training, planning for the next year, etc. I also think we can “rearrange” our pay scales - instead of automatically paying for each additional year or degree, why not look at other avenues of compensation, such as contribution to student achievement, obtaining additional credentials in shortage fields, teaching in high-needs areas? We need to be more creative about how we compensate teachers.

Comment from :
Since some of the discussion has centered on on-line/technology driven support for new teachers, you may want to visit a tool developed by Dallas TeleLearning: and

Question from Sarah Willingham, former school administrator:
There is great concern about retention for the more experienced teachers (5 years plus) and about the recruitment of people with subject competency but without teaching credentials. What about those experienced educators (10-15 years plus) who have moved into business for a few years and are ready to return to the educational arena with additional experience and understanding of the career and employment expectations ahead of the students? Why are these exceptionally well-prepared and experienced educators met with comments from Human Resource personnel saying: “You have too much experience. Our administrators instruct us not to present for their consideration any applicants with your range of experience.”

It seems that recruitment of these persons would bring enrichment and improvement to the educational process/environment. What is your perspective?

Chuck White:
I’m sure every district may have a different philosophy, but ours has always been to attempt to find the best candidate for the position regardless of whether they are experienced or not. In many cases the candidates you’ve described would be excellent candiates to return to the classroom, if we are convinced that they like kids and are the best match for the opening.

Question from F. A. El-Amin, Secondary Teacher, WS/FC System:
Are African-American teachers being retained or leaving the profession because of the new federal guideines?

Elizabeth Arons:
NCLB has not been fully implemented, but I can’t imagine how African American teachers would be adversely impacted by the HQ legislation, since the standards are objective and relate to teacher certification issues.

Question from Dolly Rickerman, Elementary Education Licensure Student, Fayetteville State University, NC:
I will be completing my student teaching here in NC in the spring of 2005; however, we are military, and I am sure we will be moving shortly after. Because I will have only my initial licensure in NC, will it be difficult for me to get hired in other states? How do most states deal with this dilemma?

Chuck White:
You will need to make contact with the teacher licensing board in the state you anticipate moving to after graduation. If you have a good idea now, I would already be making those phone calls to request the information you will need to apply for a teaching license in that state.

Question from Debbie Arnold, Assistant Principal, Crowley Middle School:
Is there any possibility that the requirements to become “highly qualified” will be eased/changed/altered for middle school teachers? These are the hardest positions to fill and seem to have the most stringent requirements for “highly qualified” status.

Elizabeth Arons:
Each state makes it own decisions on how to define HQ for middle school. Most states are permitting elementary certification to be considered HQ at the middle school level. Other states are requiring subject certification to teach middle school (remember the old Junior Highs- sound familiar??). Have your state benchmark what other states are doing. They may be surprised to find alot of flexibility out there around middle school.

Question from Aretha Young, Certification Specialist, Cecil County Public School:
If School districts can not meet the 05-06 Goal of having core academic teachers “highly qualified” what is the expected consequence.

Elizabeth Arons:
I suppose eventually the feds will threaten to withhold Title I $$. But their expectations have been unrealistic from the beginning that we could meet this mandate.

Question from Lavern Williams, pre-service teacher, University of Texas at Arlington:
I am currently in the hunt for a teaching job for the upcoming school year. I am “highly qualified” as defined by the State of Texas, but I feel discouraged at the lack of math positions presenting themselves at this time. I am mid-level certified in math and hunting very hard.

I feel mentoring programs are critical for first year teachers to give them a support system to survive. How can I ask about this during a preliminary interview? Is is appropriate to ask what type of support system is in place for new teachers? What other questions should I be asking when I begin to interview?

Chuck White:
When you inter and interview situation it is important that you take the frame of mind that you are also determining if this is the best fit for you. Normally toward the end of the interview there will be opportunities to ask questions and the questions you’ve posed would be good ones to ask.

Comment from JG, Teacher Chicago Public Schools:
Comment: I disagree with the need to be “creative” with increasing teachers’ salaries. Every year students need to be educated, it’s not a surprise expenditure, so I truly believe that an increase in teachers’ salaries should be budgeted. Having said that, I also agree with an earlier statement that most teachers do not enter the profession for the money, but for the many other rewards. Finally, as a 1st year teacher, I also feel that emphasis on retention rather than recruitment is of the utmost importance - and keep it consistant, the more hoops a new teacher has to jump through, the less likely they’ll stay in the field. Thanks for reading. All the best to you out there.

Question from Inez Bracy, Member representative, Volusia CountyC:
How can school districts recruit, retain and ensure an equal opportunity for minorities?

Elizabeth Arons:
I think “grow your own” programs are highly effective in meeting the need for a diversified staff. Paraeducators are often more diverse and if the right training programs exist, they can become teachers through university partnerships. “Second career” candidates can also be more diverse, especially if the programs advertise in the right newspapers/journals.

Question from J. Blakley, Education Consultant:
My frustration comes from being a highly qualified teacher with years of successful teaching experience who is seeking to reenter public education. Is anything being done to recruit teachers who are already qualified, who may have left the classrooms and pursued other areas that relate to education? Do you have other suggestions? Thank you.

Chuck White:
Definietly. Make sure you clearly describe your qualifications on the application and resume and point to the fact that your are highly qualified in your core subject of preparation.

Comment from Ashindi Maxton, Policy Director, Teach For America:
Would like to address the comments about poor retention for my organization, Teach For America. I can’t attest to what someone may have seen in a particular program, but I will say that more than 60% of teachers placed through TFA nationally remain in the classroom and a much higher percentage remain in the field of education. For example, over 100 of our alums are school principals and many more work in central administration of districts, are on school boards or education related non-profits. Would this influence your sense of whether such programs are a good investment?

Question from Kathleen Macke, Education Major, Lourdes College Sylvania OH:
I will be graduating in December of 2004 with my BA in Middle School education. What is my best approach for applying and entering the teaching workforce at mid-year?

Elizabeth Arons:
you will be very marketable - there are lots of openings mid-year in urban school districts. don’t forget to go to as part of your search!

Question from Steve Bailey, Systems Engineer, CACI:
I am seriously considering a “career switch” . However, it appears that most educational institutions will only consider me at a “starting teacher” level. Due to educational couses i’ve taken (including student teaching) I’ve received my state teacher certification at secondary level (Math). Is there any serious movement to allow school districts to higher “career switchers” at higher levels? It would seem that some more people might enter teaching if they were credited with 5-15 years expereince for non-traditional teaching experiencies such as military service or teaching business seminars etc..

Chuck White:
That is a district by district decision as to how the credit your teaching or non-traditional teaching experience. In most cases you see this occur in the areas of Industrial Arts or posssibly Business.

Question from Deborah Maas, Title I Reading Teacher, Cesar Chavez Community School, Santa Fe, NM:
There are also new requirements for teacher assistants in terms of additional colege credit hours. This is particularly difficult for schools in rural areas of our state, where there is no local access to post-secondary education. Do you have any suggestions?

Chuck White:
School districts have the option of developing their own assessment to determine if instructional assistents meet the definition of being highly qualified. That may be a direction your district wants to check out.

Comment from :
Almost every state has defined a HOUSSE rubric that determines the teachers Highly qualified status in each of their teaching assignments. For Middle school teachers – and others, this HOUSSE rubric typically relies on past teaching experience, college coursework and other activities to build a “portfolio” of experience that certifies the teachers as highly qualified. One product that helps districts determine if their teachers are highly qualified can be found at: Education/HOUSSE_Recertification.htm

Comment from John Jay, Substitute Teacher, Ventura Co., California:
The only question I have is this. Why are people like me (age 60) being denied the right to teach, merely because we are somewhat slower than young “pups” and have a lot of gray hair??? Dont’ say it is not true, because I have been experiencing this age discrimination out here in California, and so have a LOT of other potential teachers. I do not yet have a credential, but am getting close (one more semester to go). At the last job fair,young teaching candidates, with NO teaching credentials, were given job offers, while I was turned down flat. They told me “You do not have a teaching credential”. I said,neither do the three young ladies you just told to report for job intervies. I asked them if they had credentials. One young lady said “No, but I have just started the process of earning one.” The other two were into credentials programs, like me, but did not have their credentials yet. Looks like age discrimination to me.

Question from Elizabeth Edwards, Teacher, Fairfax County Public Schools:
How can we possibly talk about recruiting quality teachers while we watch highly qualified teachers leave the profession in high numbers due to poor compensation and increasingly stressful work conditions? I am certain your responses will acknowledge the relationship of these issues.

Chuck White:
In many districts it is a catch 22 situation. There are also many districts faced with laying off staff because of funding cuts and at the same time needing to hire teachers in shortage areas. It can be a real mess.

Question from Arnie Weiner, Assistant Director, Recruitment & Selection, Los Angeles Unified School District:
It was my understanding that when one state identified a teacher as “Highly Qualified”, it would, with a letter of verification to that fact, be transferable to any other state. Is that true?

Chuck White:
No. Every state has their own definition that fits together with their licensing requirements.

Kathryn Doherty, Education Week (Moderator):
Because there were so many questions posed to our guests today, I thought I would post some of the unanswered questions even though the session is about to end. Since Chuck White, president of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, has been tuned in, perhaps some of them can suggest the kinds of guidance and assistance his organization might provide to human resource professionals and other school and district professionals.

Comment from Luna Velez,Staffing Coordinator, Newark Public Schools:
I would like some ideas on ways to attract Hard to fill vacancies; i.e. Physical Ed/Health, English, Science, etc..Can you give me some ideas on how to attract them..We have advertised, gone to colleges to recruit, are there some other avenues we should be looking at? Thanks.....

Comment from Dr. Catherine M. Gross, Edsucational Specialist:
Is it not possible for teachers who have taught a topic for many years to get some sort of credit for all they have taught...and learned?

Comment from :
What can school district personnel do to bring the math skill level of k-8 teachers up to the standards.

Comment from Zoe Windley, Associate Principal, Del Valle HS, Austin, TX:
When recruiting prospective teachers, what aspects of your school district do you highlight for the applicant to get immediate interest/motivation to seek employment with you?

Comment from Rajen Gandhi, Ph.D.:
What steps can possibly be taken in your opinion to consider Ph.D.s “highly qualified” enough so that they don’t have to go through the senseless certification system and the nation can finally march forward in Math and science in 21st century?

Kathryn Doherty, Education Week (Moderator):
Tony Dunn, Workforce Development Specialist Mass AFL-CIO writes: Is there any certification for adult education out there that leads to imporvements in adult ed teacher job quality improvements. While K-12 teachers may be under appreciated/compensated in some places, adult ed teachers are hardly ever even an afterthought. Anyone want to give me good news on this group?

Kathryn Doherty, Education Week (Moderator):
Dr. Eileen S. Oboler, Spring Hill College, Retired NYC Readig Teacher writes: What is your perspective on “team teaching” as an approach to meet ‘highly qualified’ requirements? This means reading teacher teaming with a classroom or content/subject-based teacher.

Kathryn Doherty, Education Week (Moderator):
W. Williams, JROTC, YISD writes: How does JROTC fit into the NCLB “highly qualified” certification? Will JROTC Instructors have to obtain state certification on top of their Military Branch certification?

Kathryn Doherty, Education Week (Moderator):
Say Dempsay - Santa Barbara City College writes: I know that schools are ready for distant learning students. Do you feel that they are also ready for distance teaching teachers? Is there a practical way to approach schools with this idea?

Kathryn Doherty, Education Week (Moderator):
We’ll have to end things there. I’m sorry we couldn’t get to every question -- there were almost 200 submitted during the past few hours. Thanks so much to Chuck White and Elizabeth Arons for participating in today’s discussion. And thanks to you Education Week on the Web readers for your thoughtful and provoking comments and questions. A transcript of this session will be available this afternoon on the home page.

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