School district turnover up, but on pace with state

Officials say staff changes `on track' with recent years


Teacher and overall staff turnover in the Douglas County School District rose from 2012-13 to 2013-14, putting it at a level similar to the state as a whole.

DCSD teacher turnover is up about 4 percentage points, from 13.26 percent in 2012-13 to 17.28 percent in 2013-14, according to the Colorado Department of Education. Total staff turnover — which includes principals, administrators, office support, paraprofessionals, trade and other employees — increased about 2.4 percentage points, from 17.66 to 20.05.

In 2013-14, average teacher turnover in Colorado was 16.65 percent, and total staff turnover was 20.37 percent.

Critics in recent years have said DCSD's education reforms have prompted many teachers to leave. But school district leaders say the turnover is not alarming.

“Turnover in DCSD across all employee groups remains on track with recent years,” DCSD spokeswoman Paula Hans said in an emailed statement. “For the 2013-14 school year, DCSD is once again below the state average, with 20.05 percent in total turnover. Neighboring school districts are as high as 32 percent in turnover for the most recent school year.”

Denver Public Schools, which also has been in the process of implementing education reform, recorded total turnover of 31.61 percent.

DCSD's total staff turnover rate in 2013-14 was higher than the neighboring, suburban Cherry Creek (17.26 percent), Jeffco (14.76 percent) and Littleton (13.64 percent) districts. The same was true for teacher turnover.

The Douglas County district's best teachers are, for the most part, staying. Under the district's rating system, 21 percent of teachers are considered highly effective; 5 percent of those teachers recently left DCSD, according to the district. Most of the teachers — 70 percent — are rated effective; of those, 7 percent left the district. Of the 1 percent rated ineffective, 88 percent left.

“DCSD is in the midst of a rigorous transformation of American education,” the email from Hans said. “Professional educators are redesigning, and in some cases completely reinventing our outcomes, assessments, teaching strategies and evaluations. As part of this process, we are raising expectations and turnover is to be expected.”

Looking back in five-year increments, CDE statistics show a rise in DCSD's turnover rate. Teacher turnover was at 10.16 percent in 2008-09, and 12.5 percent in 2003-04. Total staff turnover in those years was 15.35 percent in 2008-09 and 16.6 percent in 2003-04.

“To see the turnover rate for administrators and teachers compared to years past for Douglas County shows how unhappy people are,” said Courtney Smith, president of the Douglas County Federation of Teachers. “What they're doing in Douglas County is not working, despite their slogan.”

CDE's turnover calculations are different from DCSD's, the district says. For instance, an in-district promotion or transfer is viewed by CDE as turnover, the email said. In the teacher category alone, Hans said, that decreases turnover from 17.28 percent to 14.63 percent.

But that would apply to and potentially change all CDE turnover statistics, not just in Douglas County. The department of education confirmed its statewide turnover report does not account for promotions or transfers, but compares staff identification numbers and the job classification from year to year. 

In recent months, DCSD has seen turnover in upper-administration positions. Former assistant superintendent of secondary education Dan McMinimee and system performance officer Syna Morgan accepted positions with Jeffco Public Schools. McMinimee is the district's new superintendent and Morgan its chief academic officer.


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I would suggest you check your facts. Was your number information (that I'm assuming you received from DCSD) before or after June 1st? I ask because by July 15th, approx. 19(NINETEEN) elementary school principals either found new jobs in district, left the district for other jobs (the majority of them), or left the profession entirely. Out of 44 elementary schools, that 20% sure seems more like 43%. Not to mention the scores of middle/high school principals, middle admin at the district building, support staff, etc. In my daughter's elementary school alone, I can count on one hand the number of teachers, admin and support staff that are still there from 3 years ago - no exaggeration. I can give you names.

And by-the-way, the figures you received from the district, which they are required to give to the state as well, will not be updated until October 2014. I think you may want to publish another, more accurate article then, with the REAL 2013-2014 turnover rate. It's quite eye-opening.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | Report this

The fact is that schools across the country EVERYWHERE are failing to properly educate our next generation. Changes must be made.

The business of any school is to educate students. In any business, employees are held accountable for the quality of their job. Schools and teachers are no different!

As with any biz, if an employee finds a better opportunity, they can opt to take it.

Frankly, the voters and public in DC want to see improvements and are tired of tenure and interference and whining from the union.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | Report this

An analysis shows that DCSD used to have the lowest turnover in all categories, compared with surrounding districts including Cherry Creek, Jefferson County and Littleton, other than one in the four years prior to Fagen. However, DCSD now has the highest turnover in all three categories in the four years of Fagen. Many of the teachers and administrators we have lost have been deemed "highly effective" so we are losing many of our best employees, according to the district's own rating system. There is no tenure, so it has nothing to do with that. Once again, the district's propaganda machine is at work.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | Report this

Tenure is common is most school districts. You are presuming that the comment applied to DCSD. In general, the public is disgusted with tenure & tenure creates problems.

Reward great teachers with better salaries---because they are great teachers not because of how long they have taught. Time on a job does not necessarily signify the quality of work in any field. New teachers and employees as often as not improve the workplace---school or otherwise.

If a teacher or any employee can find another job that they would like to pursue, it is their right to do so.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | Report this

Yes, I was referring to DCSD not having tenure since DCSD is the topic of this discussion. You said it yourself, "Concern4DCKids" - "Frankly, the voters and public in DC wants to see improvements and are tired of tenure..." Remember that? The district is trying to force out their highly paid teachers - they admit to the lowering of teacher salary expenses at board meetings - and it is quite obvious. We lost 555 teachers between 12/1/12 and 12/1/13, and who knows how many more since then. We won't know until next year. I don't want my child's school to lose any more of their teachers because of this district's agenda. Our losses are other districts' gains. We have already lost too much. My recent graduate got a better education than my younger child will, simply because of the cuts to excellent programs and the district's bloated top administration and pet projects. Enough.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | Report this

A correction is needed. The article uses the school years 2012-13 and 2013-14, in reference to turnover numbers that apply to calendar years 2012 and 2013, respectively. Since the majority of teachers who leave their jobs do so over the summer, this means that the 13.26% turnover relates primarily to the 2011-12 school year and the 17.28% turnover relates primarily to the 2012-13 school year. The article is off by a year. The actual numbers for teachers leaving after the 2013-14 year will be included in the CDE's December 2014 report, which will not be available until about this time, 2015.

The enormous, 70% increase in DCSD turnover from the pre-"reform" days to 2013 is concerning. High rates of turnover are costly in all industries. It's not good for students, especially when we lose so many experienced teachers that there aren't enough left to mentor the new ones. Here are the kinds of teachers DCSD is losing due to it's corporate reform agenda:

25 year veteran teacher ranked highly effective say that teachers are “tired of being disparaged, mocked, demonized, lied about, sabotaged and ignored”

Apple award finalist, served on numerous committees, presented at national conferences, coached students to Nationals in Speech and Debate, received "Outstanding Teacher" designation multiple times, and was ranked highly effective:

“not afraid of change”, “not afraid of accountability”, told by a student “you are one of the best things in my life … if I could pick one person from the school to keep in my life, it would be you”

13 year veteran teacher “retired” because “actions and decisions being made and philosophy being embraced does not reflect best practices and equity for all our students”

Apple award nominee says the climate created by the school board and administration “sucks the life out of teaching”

Monday, July 21, 2014 | Report this

@Concern4DCKids: You are clearly NOT concerned for DC Kids. Otherwise you wouldn't be spouting tired and ridiculously inaccurate statements.

"School across the country everywhere are failing...". Really? You have NO data to back up this myth. If you look for the data, you will find that American Education is doing fine and continuing to improve (despite "reformers" like yourself and the DCSD Board). Stop promoting this mythical crisis.

Quit bashing "tenure" and "union" as the cause of all education all problems. Tenure (which doesn't exist in DC) is another way of saying "due process" which DOES exist in American businesses and they seem to be OK with it. Unions exist to give employees a unified voice, NOT to protect bad employees. DC teacher's union worked WITH the admin to create highly skilled teachers.

Teachers and school employees ARE held accountable for quality of their job. What makes you think they aren't? Again, empty phrases with no support. Rewarding great teachers is NOT happening in DC. I was rated Highly Effective this year and got a pay cut compared to last year. The district will tell you that yearly pay went up for some (which is true) but they won't tell you that the total salary went down for many compared to last year (which is true). Again, empty rhetoric.

Skilled teachers have MORE experience which means they've been teaching longer. That's now acquiring a skill works. It's the same for other professions. Doctors, lawyers, etc. right out of school don't have as much skill as ones who have been practicing for many years. By the way, NO ONE is calling for the use of inaccurate and useless testing of doctors and lawyers to "show their worth." They are judged by the results. Douglas County had great results based on graduation rates, college admissions and overall reputation. We held our own with Cherry Creek and other districts across the nation. Not anymore.

Please stop using empty phrases and arguments with no evidence when you discuss education. It just shows everyone that you have an agenda to promote the DC school board and you are willing to do it any way you can. If you were truly concerned, you'd listen to the students and educators in the buildings (or the ones who are left) and NOT the "reformers."

I joined Douglas County School District over 20 years ago. I could have taught anywhere, but I didn't want to be in a school district that was "on pace with state." I wanted to be better. That's where DCSD is now and the evidence points to the current school board and superintendent.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | Report this