Education Chat

Strategies in Teacher Recruitment and Retention

This chat featured two district administrators taking questions on key issues and innovative strategies in teacher recruitment today.

Innovative Strategies in Teacher Recruitment and Retention
Feb. 15, 2006

Our guests:

  • Carolina Pavia, the administrator of certificated employment, for the Los Angeles Unified School District; and
  • Darlene Larson the associate superintendent for human resources in Township High School District 214, in suburban Chicago.

Anthony Rebora, (Moderator):
Welcome to our live chat on issues in teacher recruiting—a crucial and often challenging topic for both schools and teachers today. We have two guests who have a great deal of “on-the-ground” experience in recruiting and can provide a lot of advice: Carolina Pavia, the administrator of certificated employment, for the Los Angeles Unified School District; and Darlene Larson the associate superintendent for human resources in Township High School District 214, in suburban Chicago. We also have a lot of excellent questions and comments already. So let’s get started.

Question from R. Frangione, Bucknell University:
What are some of the “hard to staff” positions and how might schools do a better job of promoting them?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
Hard to staff positions include those where there is a paucity of applicants such as the sciences (physics and chemistry in particular), foreign language, technology, home economics, and industrial technology. There is also a shortage of school psychologist applicants. One strategy is to form partnerships with those universities that have candidates in these content areas, visit those schools annually, and establish interviews as early as possible.

Question from Scott Petri, Teacher, LAUSD:
Does the credentialing process prevent excellent candidates from entering the profession?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
Absolutely not. Though it may appear complex to individuals outside of the profession (i.e., career changers), nevertheless it is critical to prepare teachers to meet the demands of the classroom in California. Fortunately, the District provides a great deal of support to candidates as they proceed through the employment process.

Question from Lynda Eicher, Education Student, Carroll College:
I am a fortysomething education student and should be in the job market next year. I hear that the job market is extremely competitive, and also that there is a teacher shortage. Which is it, and what will separate me from other candidates besides vast life experience, parenting and extensive volunteering with children in schools?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
The job market is competitive, and it should be. As in any other field, we wish to recruit the very best. In our case, it is the most important work imaginable, education of our youth. Additionally, there are many job opportunities due to the demographics in this nation; ie. many teachers retiring. Clearly the characteristics you cite will be helpful in the job search. You must prepare, prepare, prepare. That is, learn as much as possible in your student teaching experience reflecting on both what went well and what could be improved so that you present yourself as the best possible candidate for the position you desire. Work with advisors and mentors for feedback and advice in seeking opportunities.

Question from Dr. Somyos Lorwatanapongsa, MS math-science teacher, Redeemer International School Thailand:
How can a principal find out about the potential teacher’s attitude and ability in teaching ?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
A principal can design questions that are hypothetical in nature requiring problem solving. A rubric should be developed with the best answers highlighted. Then the candidate’s response can be evaluated using the rubric. Additionally, a candidate should be asked to do a self assessment on such characteristics as flexibililty, adaptability, response to constructive criticism, team work, and collaboration. Of course, these traits should also be considered as one formulates questions for references including the current employer. Ability in teaching might be evident by having one teach a sample lesson or actually doing a site visit to one’s current school.

Question from Carol Luetzow, Teacher:
Discuss those entering the field of teaching through alternative routes. What is your expereince in terms of quality, student outcomes, and retention?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
There are many alternate routes available to teachers in California and LAUSD. For example, the District’s Career Ladder Program nurtures current paraprofessionals who are completing teacher preparation programs by providing both financial support and staff development. Individuals who complete the Career Ladder Program have the highest retention rate in the District since they live in the communities they serve.

The District also offers a District Intern Program that prepare teachers in the areas of elementary, elementary bilingual, special education, math, English and science. This state accredited program is rigorous in nature and its graduates also enjoy a high retention rate.

Lastly, the District is proud of its relationships with local universities and currently has 28 intern agreements with colleges in the area.

These three programs attract bright, energetic, diverse teachers who represent our student population.

Question from Daniel Aguilar,TeacherSp.Ed.:
As an experienced teacher with over 25 years in the field, what can veteran teacher do to help keep and recruit teacher into the profession? Mentoring for a year is not enough I try to follow up over the next few school years. What else can we do?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
I would advise you to continue to follow up with those whom you have mentored to offer continuous support, encouragement, and guidance. You, as well as those whom you have mentored, may be interested in school leadership. You may wish to get others involved in curriculum work or staff development opportunities. These kinds of experiences keep teachers energized about their work.

Question from Suzanne Gervais, MPA, Masspac:
I am interested in moving into education, but have found the process difficult, impossible and aggravating. I am thinking it is not worth the hassle. What is being done to recruit business and non-profit professionals into the field?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
Do not give up. If you truly like kids and believe that teaching is your passion, there will be a job for you. You need to make a plan that consists of targeting individual school districts by learning as much as possible about them and their potential job openings. Determine where you might have versatility in teacher licensure and be prepared to teach in more than one area. At the high school level, co-curricular involvement is a necessity. Plan to contribute to this program as a coach or activity sponsor. Most importantly, maintain a positive attitude so that any school district would welcome your enthusiasm, intelligence, altruism, and potential to make a valuable contribution. Most districts welcome the diversity of hiring staff who have had experiences in other fields as it enriches their schools and districts.

Comment from :
How will you “sell” teaching as a career when the pay hasn’t kept up with the demand? We are still without a contract in our district and will not get a cost of living increase even if our contract is settled. Also, the new demands and changes by the Dept. of Education is what is driving experienced educators like myself (20 plus years out of teaching.) I would not want one of my kids going into education as it is presently set up. It is a top-down management again and many educators fell helpless to do anything they think would make things better. Sincerely B.Caron

Question from Brandon Cordes, St. Cecilia School:
Can either of you comment on the outlook for School Psychologists postions, supply, and demand in the future, based on your experiences?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
High schools generally hire one or two school psychologists per building depending upon school size and needs. This is an area in which we are experiencing shortages in Illinois. Thus, while there are few positions, there is not a large candidate pool.

Question from tania petrova,reporter, sega daily. bulgaria:
Do you use agencies to recruit teachers and what is your oppinion about their work?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
The District utilizes Teach for America in order to assist staffing in our chronic shortage areas. While they typically only spend two years in the classrom, they are committed to serve in high need areas of the city.

Question from :
Is Teach for America providing a quality answer to the need for more teachers?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
The principals in LAUSD have been pleased with the Teach for America teachers. We are hopeful that this organization will press for more math, science and special education teachers since these are shortage areas throughout the Nation.

Question from B. Frangione, Graduate Students:
What specific challenges do you see in future teacher recruitment?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
I see a number of future challenges in recruitment. First, as the “baby boom generation” of teachers continues to retire, districts will face substantial work in continuing to fill positions with quality candidates in large numbers. Second, districts with budget reductions must work to remain competitive in attracting candidates when working conditions, salary/benefits, and job security remain in the forefront of the minds of candidates. Third, recruiting minority teachers must be a goal of every school district. Fourth, districts must be mindful of changes in licensure requirements in accordance with NCLB to be certain candidates are in compliance. Finally, there will always be specific positions that are difficult to fill such as those in the sciences and technology.

Question from Susan Hatcher, Special Educatiion teacher, Region OneSchool District:
Having been in teaching over the last 20 years I have seen a number of excellent collegues leave the teaching profession due to the increased demands a pressures from such mandates as IDEA and NCLB. The compalaint of most was hugely increased responsiblities and liablilties and little or no support from their administrations (ie training, needed staffing, etc.). How is this huge problem being addressed on a global as well as local level?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
Globally and locally, the demands of the aforementioned mandates and other non funded directives have taken a toll on schools and districts. I believe that the answer to alleviate these stresses lies in a sound staff development plan. Teachers need support through mentoring, conference opportunities, and partnerships with colleagues across the state. For example, collaboration with other teachers who have been successful in specific curricular areas may prove invaluable. We need to share and, in some instance, replicate our success strategies in neighboring schools. In short, every district needs a staff development plan and the leadership and funding behind it to provide for on-going teacher training.

Question from Jonathan Apostol, Assistant Principal, Cherokee Middle School, Springfield Public Schools:
While it is important to note what recruitment strategies are needed to increase teacher pools within school districts, have researchers explored what are decision making processes teachers go through when selecting one school over another (or even one district over another)?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
A study done in Baltimore MD indicated that new teacher support was a critical for retention. In LAUSD we have found that new teachers will often select a school or a given district based, in large part, upon what support and opportunities for professional growth and development are available. This support includes the support that he/she feels will be provided by the school principal.

Additionally, a survery conducted by Human Resources in 2005 revealed that mid career changers were interested in the health benefits package provided by the District.

Anthony Rebora, (Moderator):

One additional note on that last question: The Project for the Next Generation of Teachers at Harvard has done some interesting research on new teachers’ career decisions and their experiences during the hiring process.

Question from Mary Rash, Teacher Academy Instructor, Chester County Intermediate Unit #24, Chester County, Pennsylvania:
What is the #1 thing districts/principals are looking for in a canadate (fresh out of college)?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
It is a true focus on the advancement of student learning. Inherent in this notion is a genuine concern for children, their welfare, their growth.

Question from Lynn Hanrahan, Senior Consultant, Learning Keys:
What are some strategies your districts use to retain teachers in low performing schools? What expectations do you have of the principals in these schools to retain staff?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
Please see my response to a previous question regarding retention strategies with respect to financial incentives and teacher support.

With respect to the role of the principal, the District is fortunate to have an Administrative Academy that provides professional development to newly assigned school site administrators. Part of their training encompasses teacher selection, support and evaluation. This clearly lays the groundwork for the retention piece in the District.

Question from Joseph Buckley Csience and Technology Engineering Curriculum Liaison Worcester Public Schools:
As an urban school system we have difficulty finding teachers in the area of the Physical Sciences. In the past 5 years we have hired one teacher from a teacher training program in science from a college school of education and the majority of the replacements come from business and industry and require extensive training in the process of education and when the economy improves they return to the “real work” sector or if older retire after a few years. Is there a way to find a long term solution or will we continue to have a stream of poorly prepared educators?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
We are fortunate in LAUSD to enjoy a higher new teacher retention rate than most large urban school districts. Thus, we have not experienced this issue. What we do know, however, is that all teachers new to the profession need a tremendous amount of support in order to ensure their success.

Question from Polly Dornette:
If I am looking for a postion outside of the state where my certification is valid, should I first apply for certification in the state I am wanting to relocate to, or should I first look for employment in that state?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
Look for employment first, but as your job search progresses, apply for certification so that you are completely qualified to take on a new position in your new state.

Question from Lesley Hazen, Teacher Candidate, Chautauqua County, NY:
I am graduating in May with a BS in Childhood Education. I am a non-traditional student near the age that many teachers retire. I also have a professional career background in training and management. What is the attitude out there about hiring new teachers who are older, can offer a great deal of life experience but for not as long a career as a typical graduate?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
It sounds to me as if you offer a diverse and rich background. These qualities coupled with solid preparation in your field of education, along with a love for working with primary age children should lead to job opportunities. Schools need diverse work forces. Your work in training and management could also serve as invaluable in contributing to a district’s staff development goals.

Comment from Jeanne, Math and Computer,Jr. High Teacher:
There is no shortage of teachers in Michigan. There hasn’t been a real teacher shortage here in over 15 years. I had a hard time finding a job 17 years ago and I am thankful that I have a job now. We have massive layoffs in Mid-Michigan!!!!! No shortage here. ...

Question from Virginia Collier, Texas A&M University:
The superintendent of Dallas ISD recently proposed hiring certified teachers from Mexico who have been unable to obtain legal immigration status as bilingual teachers. DISD currently needs over 700 such teachers. Do you have a reaction to this proposal or any good ideas for addressing this critical issue?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
Clearly there continues to be a need for bilingual teachers at all levels, given LAUSD’s demographics. Thus, we are following this decision closely as it may have an impact upon recruitment in other states.

Question from David Anderson,Supervisor, College of St.Rose:
What would you tell young teachers with excellent credentials as they look for a teaching posistion for the fall of 2006? Is there certain regions where there is a great shortage of teachers? Thank you.

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
This question relates to teacher mobility. Candidates must first decide if they can be geographically mobile or if they are “place bound” in their job searches. I suggest that one target an area in which he/she might like to work and then pursue the job opportunities in that region/state/city. There are always many positions in most urban districts due to the large number of schools and positions. Likewise, there may be shortages in rural areas. While I am reticent to cite specific areas or districts, I do suggest that one develop a plan for the job search. Components should include a thorough investigation of a region and the school districts through web information. Keep in mind that there will be many opportunities in 2006 due to the plethora of retirments expected nationally. Of course, there are more opportunities in some content areas than others.

Question from Jan Wiezorek, student, North Park University, Chicago:
I will be attending a Teacher Job Fair soon. What do you think is the single most important idea/concept an interviewing Language Arts elementary student teacher should tell the school district interviewer?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
It is most important that you consider why you are a teacher. Hopefully, this will cause you to focus on being “student centered” in your presentation. Student centered is more than a love for kids. It involves an indefatigable quest to advance student learning.

Question from William Wallace CDR USN Ret. Finance instructor:
How much recruiting has been done in math, engineering and other fields both in recent graduates and in retiring individuals?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
Math teachers are always being recruited as plans for staffing ensue in school districts. Engineering graduates who wish to pursue teaching must obtain certification. Generally, this means additional course work in education. School districts do not, in general, pursue engineering graduates unless they are led to believe there is an interest in the field by a perspective candidate.

Question from Susan Brown, Academic Dean, The Boys’ Latin School of Maryland:
How do you build relationships with local colleges and universities to encourage their students to consider a career with your institution?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
The recruitment staff provides ongoing outreach to our local universities as well as campuses throughout the State. Currently, we have recruitment satellite offices at four local state universities. Staff at these offices are able to meet and interview prospective teachers on campus on a regular basis.

Additionally, the District facilitates math, science and special education initiatives on an ongoing basis. These initiatives are intended to recruit teachers to these high need subject areas and to introduce them to the various pathways to teaching offered by the District and our university partners.

Comment from Mike,ISS teacher-former Asst. Princ.,Wm. Penn Sch. Dist:
Why aren’t teacher’s salaries up to par with other professionals--doctors/lawyers/accountants? Over the years, too many excellent teachers have had to supplement their salaries with other jobs, thereby taking time away from their families and less time to dedicate to their teaching positions as well. If teachers were paid comparable to other professioanls, I am sure you would have better teachers and more teachers wanting to teach and continue in this rewarding, yet not recognized, profession. INCREASE teacher’s salaries across the board and you will get and keep GREAT teachers in education! ... We are in BIG trouble as a nation as far as education goes, and until we get teachers paid what they deserve, this will NOT change! If you want a good education for our nation’s children, then start paying for it like you would any OTHER professional!

Question from Richard J. Staron, Tech Ed student, Central Conn State University:
What are your thoughts on people becoming teachers as a second career? Are there any statistics that show that such people succeed equal to, less than or more than traditional students? What about teachers who take accelerated programs - any statistics on how well such teachers do re retention, success?

Thank you.

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
We have found that mid career change individuals have much to offer the teaching profession. They understand the essential components of the workplace and also know what skills their students will need in order to be successful after both high school and college. The principals are eager to hire such persons in light of what they bring to their new career. The key to their success in the classroom is the preparation/support that they receive, coupled with the content knowledge that they bring with them.

Although California offers a “fast-track” credential option, this is too new to be able to offer statistics in this area.

Question from Kevin ONeill English Teacher Central Bucks:
Our district has approximately 1400 teachers; however, very few are of color. How do you get teachers of color to want to teach in an all white suburban bastion of upper class segregated communities? Would it be a good idea for professional organizations aka unions to offer scholarships and stipends to encourage minority applicants?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
This challenge is shared by many districts throughout the nation. I suggest a thorough study followed by an action plan complete with aggressive recruitment techniques. This requires the commitment of top district and school leadership. If you have teachers of color in your district, I suggest immediately opening a dialogue with them seeking their assistance in your recruitment efforts and extending invitations for them to become recruiters at job fairs. Further, a “grow your own” program should be explored. That may be an area where scholarships/stipends are considered for students who wish to become teachers in their current school district. Bottom line: getting teachers of color to teach in an all white community requires a lot of hard work and walking the talk so that it is clear that your district is genuinely committed to diversity.

Question from Javier Melendez,Senior Director Recruitment and Retention, Orange County Public Schools, Orlando, Florida:
How important is it to formulate a strategic recruitment and retention action plan predicated in best business practices, in order to gain solid support at the highest level of the organization?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
Having a strategic recruitment plan has made a significant contribution to our success in reducing the number of under-prepared teachers in the District. We wrote our first recruitment plan three years ago and have seen dramatic gains each year. Each year the plan includes current trends in employment and is research based in its design. It is aligned to the Superintendent’s goals and includes specific recruitment activities targeting diverity, our high need areas and customer service.

Question from James Gray, English/Humanities teacher, CPS:
Why is it so difficult to move from one state to another when you are a certified teacher? Why do we not have national standards that would make this process easier?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
It is difficult because states have always had individual certification requirements. Some times one must simply pass a test in moving from one state to another; in other situations, course work may be required. The only national model is that of the National Board for Professional Teaching Starndards. This is a rigorous course of study resulting in more versatility and mobility for the teacher once he/she has acquired the National Board Certification. Nationally, there are about 7,000 teachers at this level with the number continuing to increase.

Question from Jennifer Cardoso, Philadelphia Academies, Inc.:
In the LAUSD, I understand you have a Career Ladder for teachers, starting in the high school Teaching Academies. What are the biggest challenges in managing this long-term recruitment program? What are the points along the way where students/ graduates need special support in order to stay on track? What are the incentives that have been most effective?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
The Career Ladder Program interfaces with the high school mulitingual teacher training academies. High school seniors who demonstrate outstanding potential are offered early entry contacts that guarantee them employment as a teacher in the District once they have completed a certification program and have met all pre-employment requirements.

The Career Ladder Office monitors these individuals throughout their college careers. They receive partial tuition reimbursement, professional development and a job as a teacher assistant once they meet the NCLB paraeducator requirements.

Question from Charlotte Ratcliff, Distinguished Educator, Louisiana Department of Education:
What type of strategies are you using to RETAIN quality teachers in low performing, behavioral challenging, middle schools?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
The employs school-based literacy and math coaches who support teachers. Additionally, Human Resources implements a State-approved Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program (BTSA) which provides induction to all newly-certified teachers. This program includes professional development as well as a support provider. The District is fortunate to have current teachers, including NBC teachers, as well as recent retirees who provide outstanding service to new teachers.

In addition to HR’s support, LAUSD’s Instructional Support Services Division provides high quality, standards-based professional development for all teachers.

Question from Suzanne Tillman, Director of Expeditionary Learning for NYC:
Are there ways to turn the NCLB certification/qualification requirements into positive levers for recruiting and retaining excellent teachers even though there is a national shortage of teachers?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
We must deal with the reality of the NCLB mandates with no way around them. Increased hours in ones content are certainly important and must be recognized. Having all “highly qualified” teachers is certainly a source of pride for a school district which can be demonstrated in its recruitment efforts.

Question from Denis Doyle CAO, SchoolNet, Inc:
Has 9/11 had an adverse impact on recruiting foreign born teachers (visa problems)?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
Good question. The current H1B process is not school district friendly. The cap has been reduced significantly and new H1B visa holders may not begin work until October 1st of any given school year. This is a problem in a traditional calendar district but even more so for year round calendars.

Additionally, teachers from certain countries are finding a greater level of scrutiny after 9/11. While this is understandable, it serves to delay the visa process significantly.

Over the years, the District has consistently recruited foreign teachers with full credentials/experience and we will continue to do so in our chronic shortage areas.

Question from Michael Brown, teacher, Nevada Union High School:
Carolina Pavia, By this time next year, our rural high school district will see a high turnover of retiring teachers. We will need to hire as many as 30-50 teachers. What do you suggest our district do to attract the best new teachers? We do not have a recruiting strategy.

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
The District is also anticipating a similar trend and expect that the average number of teachers hired annually will grow significantly. It is recommended that your district do an analysis of the subject areas anticipated and create a plan to address these needs. The plan should incorporate relationships within your state as well as outside your state. Often universities will allow their student teachers to complete their practicum/directed teaching requirement in other states. This might serve as a great recruitment tool. Additionally, if you are able to recruit career changers from your community, it may be possible to establish a distance learning program with a university for them to become certified.

If your recruitment funds are limited, wide use of technology (i.e., internet advertising, email campaigns to universities, use of videconferencing for interviews) would enhance your success. Companies such as Interview USA provide the technology for distance interviews. LAUSD does not hire based upon distance interviews, but does use this technology to assist principals and teachers in the placement process, given the size of our District.

Be willing to evaluate your strategies and modify them as needed enroute.

Question from Aubrey, student, Boston College:
Given the current problem with teacher retention, how do recruitment processes screen teacher candidates for career longevity? In other words, how are recruitment processes able to determine if teacher candidates will stay in teaching?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
There is no way to determine if a candidate will stay in teaching unless he/she reveals such a plan. We can only examine our own retention statistics. If they are dismal, we need to take steps to increase retention.

Question from Natasha Stark, Project Coordinator, Georgia State University:
Why is it so difficult for mid career professionals who are non-teachers to get certified to teach? As a wife and mother with real world responsibilities, I can’t abandon my family (or give up my income) to go back down to the undergrad level to get certified to teach. Why isn’t the system more accomodating for those of us who want to switch careers?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
While we cannot speak to other state programs, California’s intern programs accommodate mid career professionals who must maintain an income. These programs enable interns to teach full time while they are studying to become fully certified. The State university system also offers an approved online credential program for mid career changers with family and other obligations.

Question from david leonard, professor, concordia college -ny:
What certification area(s) will be in highest demand in 5 years?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
Projections indicate that the demand for math, science and special education teachers will continue to grow. Additionally, Speech Pathologists will also be in high demand.

Question from Hal Portner, Educ. Consultant:
I’m sure your New-Teacher Induction and Mentoring Programs help develop and retain teachers once they are hired, but does having such programs help your recruitment efforts? Do potential recruits ask whether they can expect to receive this kind of support if they come on board, and does your response influence their decision?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
You are correct in that induction and mentoring must be vibrant components of any new teacher program. Indeed such programs are enormously helpful in recruitment. I am often asked, particularly by early career teachers, what they might expect in the way of mentoring and support. Moreover, I have lliterature about my district and a CD, both of which address this topic. The latter offers testimonies from current teachers extolling the virtues of the support offered to new teachers with personalized examples of their own induction experiences.

Question from Lorraine Furey, Program Developer, Rockland BOCES, NY:
How can schools attract career-changers if they do not have not have a ‘core academic’degree? If we are adhering to the regs of NCLB, how will we account for ‘highly qualified teachers’ if they were liberal arts majors, for example?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
This is an excellent question. In California a prospective teacher may demonstrate subject matter competence via the passage of a state-approved examination (i.e., CSET). Once the exam has been passsed, the individual would then gain access to an intern/certification program to complete the preparation leading to a license/credential. California also requires passage of the basic skills test (CBEST) prior to obtaining certification.

LAUSD is fortunate to be able to provide a reknowned subject matter preparation program for prospective employees who need to pass the exam.

Question from Cindy Pancer, principal, Connections Academy:
We wouldn’t have recruiting problems if we didn’t have attrition problems. Why don’t schools work harder to keep the teachers they have? Specifically, why don’t schools listen to the reasons why teachers quit and make them counter-offers, like many businesses?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
School districts must listen to teachers reasons for quitting the district or the profession. Exit interviews are excellent tools enabling employers to learn what the key dissatisfiers may be. This then allows for districts to make corrections in a system that has significant retention issues. As to counter-offers, public schools are goverened by collective bargaining agreements that may preclude offering additional monetary incentives for retention. Businesses are not public funded allowing more flexibility in salary offers.

Question from Margaret Paynich, Student, Trinity Unviersity, DC:
I believe that one of the major issues concerning teacher retension revolves around unfair levels of respect and pay provded for the expectations placed upon teachers. What are your thoughts on this issue?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
Teachers should be paid more as their services are essential, and their preparation ubiquitous. I also agree that our profession deserves high regard. What is more important than educating the youth of this nation?

Question from Jeanne Contardo, Consultant, Business-Higher Education Forum:
Question for Ms. Larson: Why will science and technology teaching positions always be difficult to fill? What can we do at all levels (K-12 and higher education) to increase the number of individuals teaching in STEM fields?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
I believe that they are hard to fill because majors in these content areas enter other fields which offer greater compensation. We need to mentor young people in our profession beginning with talented high school students who may have an interest in teaching.

Question from Saskia Ravelli, Special Education Program Recruiter, University of South Florida St. Petersburg:
Do you have suggestions on recruitment for Special Education programs at the University level? Where would you recommend recruiting candidates who will be qualified teachers when completing their degree?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
There are shortages of special education teachers. I would recommend contacting colleges throughout the nation in an effort to determine where the programs and graduates are concentrated. Then I would form partnerships with those universities through on campus interviewing and job offers.

Question from Kume Goranson, Personnel Administrator, Chesterfield County Public Schools:
What are the current “best practices” for recruiting minority candidates?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
Recruitment strategies that best reach out to diverse candidates include: 1. Attendance at state and national conferences (i.e. Minority Expo in New York, National Association for Black School Educators, National Association for Bilingual Education, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Asian Pacific Conference). 2. Outreach to diverse student organizations on university campuses. 3. On campus recruitment at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 4. Recruiting within the District’s diverse communities. 5. Adverstising in publications/websites that target diverse populations.

Question from Daren Reifsneider, Research Assistant, Teacher Advancement Program:
Given the current racial tension in many of LAUSD’s urban high schools, what is your opinion on increasing the salary of new teachers in order to attract them to these otherwise hard-to-staff schools? In other words, do you believe that teachers in undesirable urban schools deserve higher pay that say teachers in high-achieving suburban school?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
We do not feel there are any undesirable schools in the District. Clearly, there are challenging schools in that students and their families are dealing with socio-economic and other issues that affect all aspects of their daily lives. The District aggressively recruits those individuals who understand these issues and who embrace a culturally responsive curriculum.

The District is exploring offering signing and retention bonuses and potential funding sources. This will involve discussions with the United Teachers Los Angeles and will be subject to the availability of funding.

Question from J Hull, New Teacher Mentor (Blum)-BCPSS:
We are an urban system with limited funds, highly qualified teachers are not standing in line to get to us. So you have recomendations as to how to “train” non-highly qualified people quickly. Just throwing them in for on-the job training is expensive and often leaves us looking again at mid year. What has worked for you?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
While funds are limited in virtually all school districts, it is incumbent upon districts to use funds wisely. We have found that the more we invest in teachers “up-front,” the better prepared they are, and the more successful they are the first several years in the profession. An example of this committment is the District’s six week preservice training program which assists teachers in the areas of classroom management, planning, student assessement, curriculum, meeting the needs of a diverse student population.

Question from Barbara Acosta, Project Director, Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow:
I would like to hear your experiences with high school teacher academy programs. Are these effective for recruiting high school students into the teaching profession? What challenges have been faced?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
Like anything else, a successful high school teacher academy program rests with the teacher in charge. If that teacher can attract students and design experiences that are stimulating, rewarding, and enjoyable, students may be hooked. If you staff it properly...they will come.

Question from Aubrey, Student, Boston College:
How has the NCLB requirement for “Highly Qualified Teachers” had an impact on teacher recruitment?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
Although the bar has risen significantly with the passage of NCLB, teachers have risen to the occasion and are taking the steps to become NCLB compliant. Principals in the District have also become increasingly discerning in the teacher selection process and, whenever possible, hire teachers who are already NCLB compliant. An example of the District’s success in meeting NCLB requirements is the significant reduction in Emergency Permit (provisionals) holders over the past three years. It has decreased from over 5,090 teachers on Emergency Permit to under 400 today.

Question from Patti Romines, Human Resources Assistant, Educational Service District 112:
How are your districts providing services to students when you are unable to hire speech language pathologists and special education teachers. The kids are still there, but we can’t find the staff.

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
My only experience has been with the lack of speech language pathologists. For the first time this school year, we were forced to outsource these services. This required dialogue with the teachers association which clearly understood our challenge and supported the solution. We then began our search one year in advance and were able to hire early for the next school year.

Question from Elise DuBois Assistant Principal:
What data speaks to the implications of a shortage of math, science, and special education teachers? What are you feelings on schools that hire underqualified teachers in these areas? How might we discourage this practice or encourage better teacher training of people changing from industry to education?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
It is apparent that the pipeline in these areas is not well developed. As a result, the District has written for and received a federal grant that focuses on the development of this pipeline specifically in science and special education. It is unrealistic to expect any distict, large or small, to fill their vacancies in math, science and special education give the shortage that exists nationwide. Career changers do bring a wealth of subject matter knowledge to the teaching profession. It is incumbent upon districts and universities to provide a quality preparation grounded in research and pedagogy.

Question from Larry Getzler, Chief Economic Analyst, Virginia Department of Planning and Budget:
What are the chief criteria you use in evaluating applicants? In your experience what are the best indicators that an applicant is likely to go on to become a successful (in terms of increased student achievement) teacher?

Darlene Larson, Township Highschool District 214, Ill.:
Unfortunately, there is no magical method or formula to predict success in a teaching candidate. There is also great fallibility in the interview process. I like to examine the applicants cover letter and vita carefully to determine how they write and how well prepared these documents are. Next, I review the job description for a given position and then allign interview questions with it. Of course, the job description must include “affective” traits related to interpersonal skills and attitude. Thereafter, I review each applicants interview in an effort to determine how they will work with students. Hearing a candidate talk about students and ways to guide their achievement are most important. Keeping all this in mind, I must reiterate that there is no sure fire way to predict success based on diligent screening and interviewing. If one has an opportunity to actually watch a candidate teach, this would certainly add another dimension to the decision making.

Question from Lisa S. Johnson, Researcher, New Teacher Center:
Why don’t we have a national campaign to recruit teachers - similar to what the armed services with their ads on television and radio? Teaching is a noble profession - we need to spread the word.

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
California actually had a statewide program, the Teacher Recruitment Incentive Program (TRIP), that existed for three years. Six regional recruitment centers were established that served as clearinghouses for individuals applying to be teachers throughout the state. Recruitment staffs from these centers conducted nationwide searches for prospective teachers for California. The program, though short-lived due to budget cuts, was extremely successful.

Question from Dan Cronin, Assistant principal, McIntosh Middle School:
What are some of the innovations or creative ideas from folks who work in areas where housing costs might be prohibitive to new teachers?

Carolina Pavia, Los Angeles Unified School District:
The District maintains a relationship with a community-based financial consortium. This group of lenders, the Los Angeles Teachers Mortgage Assistance Program (LATMAP), provided assistance with down payments and loan applications for teachers and other District employees.

Anthony Rebora, (Moderator):

That’s all the time we have. I want to say thanks to our guests Carolina Pavia and Darlene Larson, who’ve been working very hard over the past hour. Thanks also to all who submitted questions. (Sorry we couldn’t get to all of them.) I thought this was very substantive discussion. A transcript will be posted shortly on I hope it serves as a useful reference.