Understanding the Real Retention Crisis

Report misses opportunity to help all teachers

A new report by the New Teacher Project presents some solid recommendations on what can help keep good teachers on the job, but it doesn't pay enough attention to the need to create continuous development and support systems for all teachers."This report is puzzling," AFT president Randi Weingarten says of "The Irreplaceables: Understanding the Real Retention Crisis in America’s Urban Schools." "On the one hand it makes the point of the importance of keeping good teachers and what's needed to do that. On the other, it assumes that someone can magically become a good teacher and that school leadership means simply firing bad teachers. What is missing is the work that needs to be done to create continuous development and support systems to help all teachers become great teachers. This is how we make sure that every student succeeds.


"Even Bill Gates has repeatedly said that teacher evaluations must be fused with professional development. Gates told the Education Commission of the States Annual Conference that "the country's teachers have been working in systems where almost everyone gets a good evaluation—and almost no one gets any feedback." That's the key point. Our teachers get no feedback—no guidance on how to get better."


The report lays out what teachers say they need to stay on the job, attract other skilled educators to the profession, and help kids learn and grow, including:


  • Regular feedback and opportunities for continuous professional development;
  • A clear career path and opportunities for leadership;
  • The resources they need in their classrooms to help them do their jobs and help students learn;
  • Collaboration and shared responsibility with administrators and community;
  • Safe and vibrant schools; and
  • Effective Parent engagement.

"These are things we should be focused on providing all teachers," Weingarten says. "What it comes down to is ensuring that teachers have the time, tools and trust they need to improve teaching and learning. It’s about treating educators like the professionals they are, using their rich knowledge and experience to build up the teaching profession."

AFT release-July 31, 2012
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