Teacher turnover in Douglas County School District rises above state average

New data from the Colorado Department of Education shows the turnover rate for 2015-16 is 19.7 percent

Posted 4/2/16

Teacher turnover in the Douglas County School District has risen above the state average, according to new data by the Colorado Department of Education.

For the 2015-16 school year, the teacher turnover rate in the school district was 19.7 …

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Teacher turnover in Douglas County School District rises above state average

New data from the Colorado Department of Education shows the turnover rate for 2015-16 is 19.7 percent

Posted

Teacher turnover in the Douglas County School District has risen above the state average, according to newly released data by the Colorado Department of Education.

For the 2015-16 school year, the teacher turnover rate in the school district was 19.7 percent - it was 16.7 percent the previous year and 11.6 percent five years ago - figures released April 1 show. The state average is 17 percent.

"We must do what is right by our staff and we must be honest with ourselves," Board of Education President Meghann Silverthorn said. "These numbers are concerning, and I will not blindly defend them. I want answers. I care about our staff and our students too much to leave this unaddressed."

DCSD's turnover rate continues to be higher than some of its closest neighbors. Littleton (9.3 percent) and Cherry Creek (10.4 percent) turnover rose about 1 percentage point each from the previous year. In Jefferson County (16.3), it went up slightly less than 2 percentage points.

Meanwhile, turnover among principals in the Douglas County School District rose to 23 percent from 20.7 percent the previous year. Principal turnover in Littleton for the 2015-16 school year was 7.1 percent, and in Cherry Creek it was 9.6 percent. Jefferson County's figure is 16.3 percent, the same as the state average.

Silverthorn said she has invited parents, principals and teachers to share their concerns.

"When students are affected by teacher or principal turnover, then that is an issue that needs to be examined," Silverthorn said. "We can look at statistics all day in a vacuum and try to defend the turnover. At the end of the day, we must be bold enough to ask the tough questions and make the tough moves to make us a district that welcomes and retains great staff."

A spokeswoman for the Douglas County School District said officials would need more time to analyze the new data before commenting on it.

Assistant Superintendent Ted Knight said the district retains nearly all of its teachers who are rated "highly effective" and "effective" under the annual evaluation system.

"Our goal is to keep the very best teachers in front of our students," Knight said.

DCSD officials have said in the past they disagree with how CDE calculates turnover because the state includes teachers or administrators who are promoted or go to other schools within the district as turnover.

Board of education member David Ray said the district needs to stop debating whether or not the data is accurate and seek a solution that will keep teachers and principals from leaving.

"Data is a curious thing," Ray said. "You can embrace it, justify it or dismiss it. For too long, our district has been dismissing it and trying to justify that the data is being calculated incorrectly. But what cannot be dismissed is that the CDE data is the same metric used, and calculated the same way, for all school districts. It is unacceptable, disheartening and disturbing that we are now above the state average for turnover and two times more than our neighboring districts."

Board member Doug Benevento said the state data is not reflective of the reality of turnover in the district.

"We are retaining 95 percent of our highly effective teachers and 90 percent of our effective teachers," he said. "What David Ray is advocating for is retaining our least effective teachers, a policy that the board has not supported in the past and does not support."

Ray strongly disagrees with Benevento's assertion.

“I find it unfortunate that Director Benevento states that he knows what I am advocating for when we've never spoken about it,” Ray said. “Given my 25-year career as a principal in the district, I take offense to anyone suggesting that my intent is to retain the least effective teachers.I have worked tirelessly to place only the best teachers in classrooms for our learners and my record for retaining these teachers far exceeds the district's unfortunate turnover trends of the past five years. Forging ahead with practices that have resulted in high percentages of teachers and principals leaving our system is unacceptable.”

 

Breakout box

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 %

Douglas County: 19.7 %

Englewood: 19.6 %

Denver: 22 %

Elizabeth: 29 %

Source: Colorado Department of Education

2015-16 principal turnover in area school districts:

Englewood: 0 %

Littleton: 7 %

Cherry Creek: 9.6 %

Adams 12: 12.9 %

Jefferson: 16.3 %

State average: 16.3 %

Denver: 18.6 %

Douglas: 23 %

Elizabeth: 25 %

Lewis-Palmer: 27.8 %

Source: Colorado Department of Education

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