Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Finding Common Ground Through Data to Improve Idaho’s Teacher Pipeline

By Urban Education Contributor — February 22, 2018 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

This post is by Rob Sauer, Superintendent, Homedale School District, in Homedale, Idaho.

Today’s post is the practitioner perspective on Monday’s post: Tackling Teacher Recruitment and Retention Challenges in Idaho.

Exploring The Problem Of Practice Through Research And Data

Recruiting teachers is a challenge in Idaho’s rural districts.

At job fairs, new teachers often choose to apply only at schools in the more populated Boise and Treasure Valley areas, where they feel like they will get better pay or benefits. When new teachers do apply at rural schools, it’s often for specific reasons (they grew up in the area, it’s where their spouse works, etc.).

Retaining educators can also be a challenge in rural Idaho schools. Here at Homedale School District, we are doing relatively well with teacher retention because we have strong principal leadership at our three schools, which collectively serve 1,200 K-12 students.

But we also experience the same thing as many other rural districts across Idaho: When veteran teachers retire, we replace them with new teachers whom we train for two or three years and who then move on to other opportunities.

And when a district loses its only math teacher or fourth-grade teacher, you not only have to replace the person, you have to re-establish the whole program.

These challenges make it hard to build momentum, and they’re costly.

In Idaho, several groups (including rural and urban districts, the state education department, the state board of education, and colleges and universities) are now connecting to address teacher recruitment and retention.

Idaho’s Educator Landscape” is a new report prepared for us through our research-practice partnership with REL Northwest, one of 10 federally funded regional educational laboratories. The report analyzes statewide data on the teacher workforce from 2011-12 to 2016-17 and was shared with us and other representatives from various school districts, state education agencies, and institutions of higher education in Idaho at a recent convening organized by REL Northwest (see Monday’s post for more detail).

Use Of Data and Evidence in Practice

Having access to the data and evidence in the report helps us in several ways. For example, there are only so many pieces of the financial pie to go around, and when we make our case to the Legislature, we can now present evidence directly from the report.

Second, evidence use is one of the keys for statewide collaboration. Having data available to work from helps us pinpoint where the problems are and gives us a common language as we take steps toward a solution. With the many stakeholders invested in the issue of teacher recruitment and retention in Idaho, a common set of data is a helpful starting point for identifying shared problems and solutions.

In addition, because we now have a common set of data and evidence, we can put numbers to the stories we’ve been hearing and sharing around the challenges of hiring and keeping high-quality teachers.

For example, in the anecdote I gave about novice teachers replacing veteran teachers, we now know that the number of teachers in Idaho with less than four years of experience grew from 17 to 24 percent over the last six years, while the number of teachers over retirement age has decreased from 23 to 18.5 percent.

Future Work

These sorts of challenges are too much for Idaho’s districts—rural and nonrural—to overcome by themselves. By working together with groups across the state and using data and research as a starting point and a common language, we can add to what we are already working on and ultimately do what’s best for our kids.

The opinions expressed in Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


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
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
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

Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read
Teaching Profession With Vaccine Mandates on the Rise, Some Teachers May Face Discipline
With a vaccine now fully FDA-approved, more states and districts will likely require school staff get vaccinated. The logistics are tricky.
9 min read
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state in Hayward, Calif., on Feb. 19, 2021. California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant.
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic in Hayward, Calif. California is among those states requiring all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
Terry Chea/AP
Teaching Profession In Their Own Words Why This Science Teacher Doesn't Want the COVID Vaccine
Contrary to public health guidance, Davis Eidahl, an Iowa high school teacher, has no plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
4 min read
Davis Eidahl, a science teacher at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa, says he doesn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He thinks social distancing and occasional masking will be sufficient to keep himself and others safe.
Davis Eidahl, a science teacher at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa, says he doesn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He thinks social distancing and occasional masking will be sufficient to keep himself and others safe.
Rachel Mummey for Education Week