The teacher turnover rate in Colorado reached a 15-year high during the 2014-15 school year, with rural districts posting the highest rates in the state, according to a story by Chalkbeat Colorado.
This year, 17 percent of teachers in the state left their school districts, a rate that has been steadily increasing since the 2009-10 school year when teacher turnover was only about 13 percent. Several rural districts saw high turnover rates, with one rural district losing more than 80 percent of its teachers, many of whom were employed by an online school that closed this year.
According to the article, local budget shortages, state policies, and state funding cuts are evident in individual district rates. The overall turnover rate has increased since legislators passed a 2010 bill requiring new teacher evaluations that include student growth numbers. In one district, teacher turnover spiked, as expected, the year the district closed five schools.
Teacher retention is an ongoing issue for rural districts and states across the country. Some rural schools have launched media campaigns that highlight potential impact and classroom freedom in an attempt to attract teachers. In Alaska, school districts often send personnel to other states to recruit mostly new or inexperienced teachers. In South Carolina and West Virginia, some rural communities have attempted to build housing to encourage teachers to stay.
In Colorado, where nearly 71 percent of school districts are small and rural, some districts have interviewed international candidates for open teaching positions. Others have tried to recruit community members who can teach with alternative teaching licenses.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.