Recruitment & Retention

Texas District Finds Success Tackling Teacher Turnover

By Brenda Iasevoli — January 30, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

New strategies to tackle a high teacher turnover rate in the Waco Independent School District in Texas may be starting to pay off, reports the Waco Tribune Herald.

Waco’s teacher turnover rate is still in need of improvement, but the rate is the lowest it’s been in four years, according to recently released data from the Texas Education Agency. The current turnover rate, 23.6 percent for the 2015-16 school year, is down 4 percentage points from the previous two school years. Still, Waco lags behind the state average of 16.5 percent and about 2 percentage points behind that of similar school districts with high shares of poor students. (More than 70 percent of Waco students are economically disadvantaged.)

The district has convinced teachers to stay by hiring teacher aides and behavior intervention specialists, using the money raised from a tax increase that voters approved in the fall of 2015, according to the Waco Tribune Herald.

The district has also raised starting salaries from $43,000 a year to $45,000 and devised an incentive pay program that will reward teachers who can deliver passing student scores on Texas state tests. Teachers can earn $25 per student when 60 percent of poor students pass the test. Those exceeding that percentage get bigger bonuses: $35 per student when 75 percent pass and $50 per student when 90 percent or more pass.

Since first-year teachers made up the majority of teachers who left last school year, the district instituted training specifically geared toward the needs of those who are new to the classroom. All new teachers are assigned experienced mentors who help with everything from identifying key school staff members to planning lessons to mastering classroom management. Through informal classroom observations, mentors identify strengths and weaknesses and help their charges hone their craft.

“We offer a ton of resources and we’re very honest from the very beginning that this is going to be hard,” professional development director Patrick Uptmore told the Waco Tribune Herald. “It’s not a profession that you’re perfect in year one.”

Waco High School, led by Principal Ed Love for the past three years, has increased its teacher retention from 56 percent to 82 percent, according to the Waco Tribune Herald. Love attributes the success to a new restorative justice program—an approach to discipline that pushes students to reflect on wrongdoing and find a way of making it right, rather than on resorting to suspension. The addition of a behavior specialist and six behavior aides who teachers can call on for assistance in the classroom has also played a big part. (Larry Ferlazzo, a high school teacher and blogger from Sacramento, Calif., rounds up educator feedback on how to practice restorative justice in schools in this blog.)

But it’s not just the new approach to discipline in at Waco High School that’s encouraging teachers to keep at it. Love said he tries to keep the lines of communication open by hosting a cookout every six weeks and a monthly get-together where teachers can “vent” about any concerns they have.

“It’s just building that sense of familiness,” Love told the Waco Tribune Herald.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Recruitment & Retention Many Feared an Educator Exodus From the Pandemic. It Doesn't Seem to Have Happened. Yet.
A RAND Corporation survey of district leaders finds that predictions about principals and teachers fleeing their jobs haven't panned out.
5 min read
People form two lines in front of an Exit sign
E+/Getty
Recruitment & Retention Schools Pay a High Price for Low Teacher Salaries
Teacher turnover rates are rising and more than half of teachers said a salary hike could persuade them to stay in the classroom longer.
4 min read
Conceptual image of salary.
Collage by Laura Baker/Education Week (Images: iStock/Getty)
Recruitment & Retention How 'Grow-Your-Own' Programs Are Helping Recruit Teachers of Color
Learn which strategies are working to recruit and support future teachers of color.
6 min read
Diverse team builds a geometric shapes structure together
Rudzhan Nagiev/iStock /Getty Images Plus
Recruitment & Retention Understaffed School District IT Departments Are a Big Problem. Here's One Way to Solve It
An Oregon district needed bilingual support staff to help Spanish-speaking families manage virtual learning. It didn't need to look far.
4 min read
A worker passes public school buses parked at a depot in Manchester, N.H., Monday, April 27, 2020. New Hampshire public school children continue to be taught with remote learning, while buildings are closed to students through the end of the academic year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In school districts across the country, buses sat idle through much of the past year. Some districts turned to bus drivers or other support staff to fill IT jobs.
Charles Krupa/AP