How Is DISD Handling Its Teacher Retention Problem?

How Is DISD Handling Its Teacher Retention Problem?
Dallas ISD Administration Building | Image by NBC DFW

Being that it is World Teachers’ Day, The Dallas Express thought it a good idea to look into how the Dallas Independent School District is handling its end of Texas’ teacher retention crisis.

Data recently published by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) indicates that the state is suffering from unprecedented attrition among public school educators. The 2021-2022 academic year saw the largest year-over-year increase in teachers leaving the profession since 2008.

The attrition rate for the state spiked by 2.23% to a record high of 11.57%, a loss of 42,839 teachers from the previous year. As districts scramble to hire teachers, some of whom have just begun their careers, it is unclear how student performance is affected by so many new and inexperienced educators coming in every year.

While much has been made of the learning loss suffered by students as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a parallel loss in teaching experience is unfolding relatively unnoticed.

For its part, DISD clocked its teacher turnover at 13.8% for the 2020-2021 academic year, according to the most recent data set made available by the district. Though the rate is down from previous years, it still represents a significant churn of teachers in a given school year.

Like other districts around the state, DISD is managing to staff its classrooms, but district leaders seem more focused on attracting new hires than keeping veteran teachers.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, DISD school board trustee Joyce Foreman pointed this out at a board meeting back in June:

“[We] raise the amount (of incentivizing factors) for new teachers, but we don’t talk about how we need to incentivize tenured teachers … One of the things we have to figure out is: how do we keep good employees by incentivizing them just as we want to incentive new people coming in?”

So far, it does not seem that DISD has made any move to answer her question. Nearly 8% of DISD’s teaching staff for the 2020-2021 academic year were beginning teachers. A further 33.7% of teachers at DISD had between one and five years of teaching experience, though the range of years encompassed within this figure leaves the precise distribution of teachers within it unclear.

Additionally, the district uses an alternative certification scheme to place uncertified teachers into classrooms, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.

The Dallas Express reached out to DISD and asked if any effort has been made this academic year to tackle its teacher retention problem. We also asked how many uncertified teachers have been assigned to classrooms, but the district had not responded as of press time.

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