The Philadelphia school district is making progress in recruiting and retaining teachers, but like many districts, it still faces significant challenges to meeting federal requirements that all teachers be “highly qualified” by June 2006, according to a new report.
The report, released this month by Research for Action, notes that from 2002 to 2004, applications for teaching positions in the 214,000-student district increased by 44 percent.
And last school year, the number of fully certified teachers rose to 89.6 percent. In previous years, the figure had been declining.
By spending money on induction and coaching programs for new teachers, the district is also improving teacher retention, according to the report from the Philadelphia-based nonprofit education research organization. Between the 2002-03 and the 2003-04 school years, the retention rate for first-year teachers rose from 73 percent to 91 percent.
But the study, which was based on an analysis of the district’s teacher workforce, as well as interviews and focus groups, also found that more than 43 percent of new teachers are still not fully certified when they are hired. That will make it difficult for the district to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.
The authors also note that an uneven distribution of highly qualified teachers exists throughout the district.
At schools with the highest proportion of poor students, more than a quarter of the teachers are in their first or second year, while 15 percent of teachers are new recruits at schools with the lowest proportion of poor students.