A study by an independent organization has found that one in five of Chicago’s 24,000 teachers was transferred from one school to another between September 1980 and June 1983.
The study by the Chicago Panel on Public School Finances, a nonprofit organization sponsored by a number of citizens’ groups, concluded that during the 1982-83 school year, the classrooms of nearly 48,000 students were disrupted by the transfer of teachers and that, in 1981-82, teacher transfers cost the city $441,000 in lost productivity during the time teachers acclimated themselves to new schools.
Causes of Transfers
The panel cited declining enrollments, the introduction of new academic programs designed to promote desegregation, and the “bumping” of newer teachers under seniority rules as major causes of teacher transfers.
It suggested that transfers could be reduced by more efficient management in the school system, and it urged the school system to investigate the cases of 401 teachers who were found to have been transferred three or more times during the period studied.
“The conditions surrounding the multiple transfers of these individuals should be investigated to determine if they unfairly bear the brunt of a seniority-determined system of teacher assignment, if they represent undesirable teachers kept on the move by principals who do not want to put up with them or go through the effort to have such individuals removed from the system, or if some other explanation is required,” the panel wrote.
“While it is difficult to measure productivity in education, and therefore the cost in lowered productivity as a result of in-term transfers,” the report noted, “it is evident there is some loss of teaching effectiveness when a teacher must become acquainted with a new group of students.”
A version of this article appeared in the May 16, 1984 edition of Education Week as Chicago’s Teacher-Transfer Rate High