Conditional teacher turnover data reflects internal promotions

Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen said new numbers better reflect reality

Posted 4/10/16

A more detailed state report on teacher turnover revealed that 186 teachers in the Douglas County School District were promoted or took other positions within the district during the 2015-16.

The Colorado Department of Education released …

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Conditional teacher turnover data reflects internal promotions

Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen said new numbers better reflect reality

Posted

A more detailed state report on teacher turnover revealed that 186 teachers in the Douglas County School District were promoted or took other positions within the district during the 2015-16 term.

The Colorado Department of Education released "conditional turnover" figures on April 7. Conditional turnover excludes teachers or other personnel who left a job for another one within the same school district.

Douglas County's overall teacher turnover rate is 19.7 percent, but the percentage of teachers who left the district is lower, 14.4 percent.

Of the 687 DCSD teachers who changed jobs during the reporting period, 501 teachers left both their job position and the district, while 186 stayed in the district but switched positions or were promoted to a different job category.

This is a change in reporting methodology for the state from years past.

“I'm so appreciative to CDE for taking the time to expand upon the data,” Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen said. “For a long time that set of data has been confusing to our community. It was not an accurate representation of turnover in our district.”

Board of Education President Meghann Silverthorn said the turnover rate is still concerning.

“The new data is encouraging insofar as it shows that we provide ample opportunities for our employees to advance and find the right fit for themselves,” Silverthorn said. “However, I am still pursuing information on what is driving increases, what we can do better and what changes and improvements that might involve.”

School board member David Ray said the new figures do not change the fact that too many teachers are leaving the district.

"We need to stop playing the game of 'is the glass half full or is it half empty?' and focus on what it will take to reverse this unacceptable trend of teacher turnover," Ray said. "There is no greater impact on our students’ education than the teachers we place in their classrooms. Retaining these teachers should be our number one focus."

Cherry Creek School District had a conditional turnover rate of 9.5 percent and an overall turnover rate of 10.4 percent. Littleton School District had a conditional turnover rate of 8.7 percent and an overall turnover rate of 9.3 percent.

In the Jefferson County school district, the conditional turnover rate is 13.5 percent and the overall turnover rate is 16.3 percent.

CDE does not list a state average for conditional turnover.

Silverthorn said she is reaching out to principals, teachers and staff to hear their observations and experiences in regards to turnover in the district.

“I believe that we must examine all avenues, whether it's evaluations that might not bet uniformly implemented, low pay, increased workload or negative climate,” Silverthorn said. “Whatever the issue, I know that there are some good people who are leaving and I want to know why.”

The annual teacher turnover report had been released April 1 without the new category. But new department of education Commissioner Richard Crandall "saw the report and asked us to break out a new category that shows teachers who left their job to take on new roles within the district,” said Dana Smith, chief communications officer for CDE.

“We realized the formula for turnover actually punished school districts with strong internal leadership development programs,” Crandall said in a news release. “For example, if a district hired an in-house teacher to fill a vacant principal position, the formula would actually count that as two vacancies – one for the principal position and then a second one when you promoted the teacher. We have worked with districts over time on the report to be clearer about what retention data means.”

DCSD has been tracking its own turnover in this manner for several years. Fagen said the data shows how much value the district places on promotion from within.

She said she spoke to Crandall about the need for a more detailed report.

“It's something we have followed closely in the district. It's important to us,” Fagen said. “I can't say that we led the way because I don't know what concerns other districts have shared with CDE, but we have been looking at these numbers for a while.”

Fagen said the more detailed report is “a huge step forward.”

“We believe that in many cases our employees are the best suited to take on new roles and opportunities within the district,” Fagen said. “We believe in our teachers and administrators. I'm very proud of the way we value promotion within the district.”

2015-16 conditional teacher turnover in area school districts:

Littleton: 8.7 %

Cherry Creek: 9.5 %

Adams 12: 11.5 %

Lewis-Palmer: 13.2 %

Jefferson County: 13.5 %

Douglas County: 14.4 %

Denver: 19.6 %

Englewood 19.1 %

Elizabeth: 29.1 %

Source: Colorado Department of Education

2015-16 teacher turnover in area school districts:

Littleton: 9.3 %

Cherry Creek: 10.4 %

Adams 12: 13.2 %

Lewis-Palmer: 14.6 %

Jefferson: 16.3 %

State avergage: 17 %

Englewood: 19.6 %

Douglas County: 19.7 %

Denver: 22 %

Elizabeth: 29 %

Source: Colorado Department of Education

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