SBOE Considers How Teacher Preparedness Affects Retention

School desks | Image by TW Farlow/Getty Images

Since the coronavirus pandemic, the education landscape has undergone significant changes.

From student absenteeism rates remaining high to teacher salary changes and staff cuts, schools are undoubtedly facing new challenges.

Mike Morath, commissioner of education for the Texas Education Agency (TEA), spoke at the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting Wednesday about unique staffing challenges schools have faced in recent years.

According to a study by the TEA, student enrollment had grown rapidly over the past decade until the pandemic, but levels have since remained flat.

Conversely, teacher hiring has continued to increase even throughout the pandemic.

Although the number of teachers being hired has consistently risen, there has been a jump in teachers quitting each year.

“Teachers are quitting the profession in higher numbers than they have historically,” said Morath at the meeting.

A study published by the TEA shows that the attrition rate in Texas between fall of 2021 and fall of 2022 rose to a historic high of 13.4%.

Morath claimed that a lack of teacher preparedness is to blame.

According to the TEA, 49,200 teachers in the State of Texas were new to the classroom last year. The new hires came from diverse training backgrounds, whether they acquired a standard teaching certification from a university, came from an alternative preparation pathway, came to Texas with an out-of-state teaching certification, were reentering the education workforce, or were hired without certification.

Of the 49,200 new Texan teachers in 2023, only 12% had traditional university certifications, and 34% were not certified, the largest percentage ever.

Both school districts and aspiring educators can benefit from hiring standards allowing uncertified teachers: Districts are able to address immediate hiring needs more quickly and at a lower cost, while teachers are able to bypass years of schooling and jump right into work.

However, most of those uncertified teachers quit and, in some cases, even before the end of the year.

“Some districts are saying you have a heartbeat, come on in. That’s not producing good results,” said Morath. He emphasized the importance of better teacher preparation and getting districts to want to use quality preparation over uncertified teachers.

A TEA study presented to the board calculated that if uncertified teachers had the same retention rate in their first five years as teachers who underwent traditional certification programs, local education agencies (LEA) would need to hire 7,735 fewer teachers.

Additionally, if teachers prepared through alternative certification programs, most of which are online and asynchronous, were retained in their first five years at the same rate as teachers prepared through traditional certification programs, LEAs would need to hire 3,163 fewer teachers.

Combined, this adds up to 10,898 fewer teachers that LEAs would need to hire in five years.

“It’s certainly concerning we’re in this situation,” said board member Pam Little (R-Fairview).

Morath explained that the answer to some problems can be found in the root cause.

“If public school students are disappointed with their public school teaching experience, they won’t want to become teachers,” he said, suggesting that schools must encourage teaching as a career as viable as engineering and medicine.

Board member Will Hickman (R-Houston) spoke about increasing teacher salaries and maintaining the quality of the teachers hired.

“The harder we make the certification, the higher the quality would be, but also the less people. How do we require higher certification but also ensure [we have] teachers?” Hickman asked.

The SBOE discussed various topics throughout the rest of the day’s meetings, including credit requirements for high school graduation and fine-tuning the literature used in curriculums.

Chris Maska, TEA’s ethics advisor, gave the board a rundown on ethics training, clarifying policies that apply to SBOE members during their term and for the two years following the end of their contract.

The SBOE meetings will continue throughout the rest of the week in Austin. The meetings can be watched live here.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article