“Keep Our Oakland Teachers!” – Teacher Retention

The data gurus at OUSD recently released a dashboard focused on teacher retention rates in OUSD. (Side note: I’ve found this announcement page from OUSD Data to be very helpful in keeping track of their newest data releases and news!) I’ve been thinking a lot about teacher retention ever since our Celebrate Oakland Teachers Night (plus all those news reports about California’s dire teacher shortage) – so of course I had to dig deeper!

Question 1: How high (or low) is teacher retention in Oakland public schools?

Answer: Three-year retention ranges from 40% to 70%, varying school and region.

Specifically, middle schools and the schools in the Elevation network (which are the schools that the district is making an intensive effort to improve) have the highest turnover. On average, a student in an OUSD middle school will watch two-thirds of the teachers leave by the time s/he completes 8th grade. Yikes! It raises an important question: How, as a city and a community, can we ensure that our students with the greatest needs get our city’s best educators?

Figure 1. Average teacher retention rate at sites by Network. Courtesy of OUSD.
Schools in the Northwest have higher teacher retention than schools in the East and West – not coincidentally the areas that have higher poverty and crime.
Figure 2. Average teacher retention rate at sites by SRA region. Courtesy of OUSD

A few other things to notice in this data:

  • One-year retention clearly doesn’t tell the whole picture: On an annual basis, teacher retention rates in some regions don’t look so bad (>80%). But, an average three-year site-based retention rate of 54%* district-wide is definitely not good – half of the teachers are different in three years!
  • Retention rates have declined slightly over the past 5 years: In the recent years (’11-12 to ’15-16), teacher retention rate in OUSD has dropped a little more each year from 83% to 79.5%. The drop in retention rates from 2008 to 2011 was almost certainly driven by recession-era reductions in available teaching positions.
Figure 3. Retention of teachers in OUSD from 2006-2016. Courtesy of OUSD

Eagle-eyed folks will notice that this data is limited to district-run schools. Unfortunately, teacher retention data for charter schools isn’t collected centrally or comprehensively. This is a gap I’d love to see addressed moving forward to provide a citywide look at retention!

Question 2: Are teacher retention rates and school quality correlated?

Teachers are the people directly working with our kids every day in the classroom. We often hear that teacher longevity directly impacts the quality of students’ educational experience. As a data nerd, of course I need to ask: What does the data say?

Answer: Yup!

There does seem to be a relationship, with higher teacher retention rates at schools with a higher School Performance Framework (SPF) score. While there is wide variation in Tier 2 and 3 schools, every single school in Tier 4 or 5 has an average retention rate of higher than 70%.

But, here is a big data nerd caution: even though there seems to be a correlation, we don’t know about causation! This may be a “chicken or egg” question: does high teacher turnover drive low student achievement and school culture? Or are working conditions and environment at the school accounting for the correlation between high turnover and high student need? Or, are both school quality and teacher retention symptoms of other causal factors?

A musing: You know what data I’d REALLY like know? Retention not schoolwide or region-wide or district-wide, but retention of our most impactful teachers – i.e. those teachers that are instructional wizards, amazing with family relationships, or really hold down a school culture. I wonder if the new Teacher Growth and Development System (TGDS) would provide data on this…

Questions 3: What can we do about this?

Answer: Glad you asked!

While we know about factors that increase teacher retention from a national perspective (see TNTP’s Greenhouse Schools report), we don’t have enough data locally to really understand the root causes of what’s causing our teachers to leave Oakland classrooms. (Of course I’m biased because I always think data is critical to getting to the answers!) To understand what affects our teachers’ engagement and satisfaction, Educate78’s Teacher Advisory Group is leading a citywide teacher retention survey. The results of this survey will enable us to connect local results with the national patterns that Gallup has seen: i.e. the more engaged a teacher is, the more likely they will stay in their current job.

PLEASE HELP US SHED LIGHT ON THIS TOPIC: ENCOURAGE ALL OAKLAND TEACHERS YOU KNOW TO TAKE THE SURVEY!

(PS: check out here what we did with this data last year! If you’re interested in learning more, keepan eye out for TeachOakland Grant page)

*This an average of the different regions. I recognized that averaging across the regions is not the best approach mathematically since the regions all differ in the number of teachers compared to the pure district-wide average, but the data is not downloadable for me to calculate quickly.

###

My name is Carrie Chan, and I’m Educate78’s newest staff member. I joined the organization as an Analyst, and I LOVE data (feel free to call me a data geek). As a former OUSD student, I also care a lot about Oakland public schools. That is why I am so excited about this new blog series, “Crunched!” which will take a data-driven approach to important, relevant questions facing Oakland public schools. Please email me with ideas or requests.

Share this post!

Supporting Oakland Teachers’ Growth

In recent blog posts, our Teacher Advisory Group colleagues have been sharing what Oakland teachers are doing to increase teacher retention by addressing basic needs, management support and teamwork in their schools. As three newly joined Teacher Advisory Group members this fall, we are excited to get to announce the last three teams of Oakland teachers that were recipients of retention grants to be implemented this school year.
In this post, we focus on the highest level of the Gallup Engagement Hierarchy: Growth. According to Gallup’s research, growth opportunities improve employee satisfaction most if they are provided after the other needs (i.e. lower in the hierarchy) are met. In other words, teachers need a solid foundation of resources, clear expectations, and support first, before trying out new ideas. As teachers, this resonates with us – when we have the basics in place, we’re eager and able to learn new practices and focus on growing our careers.
We are pleased to announce the three Oakland teacher teams receiving grants to implement strategies to create professional growth opportunities at their schools. We are excited to see how these new practices will help both teachers and students! (Stay tuned for coming posts on what the grant projects look like for both teachers and students at each awarded school…)
Collaborative inquiry within the Science Department at Life Academy: Rowan Driscoll and his science department colleagues are partnering with Mills Teacher Scholars using a professional learning strategy called collaborative inquiry. They will increase curriculum alignment with Next Generation Science Standards, and focus on writing.
Building trauma-informed practices into Think College Now teachers’ toolboxes: Jennie Herriot-Hatfield, Emma Coufal and colleagues are partnering with the Seneca Family of Agencies to work with an on-site behavioral specialist to build teachers’ skills in trauma-informed practices to meet the needs of their Tier III students, an area of focus for the school, and a cause of teacher burnout.
Building teachers’ skills in developing students’ social and emotional skills at Allendale: Johnny Tan and colleagues are piloting socio-emotional curricula with classroom-based coaching and will develop a recommendation for schoolwide rollout in 2017-18. They’ll build on the school’s Positive Behavioral Intervention System foundation and grow as instructional leaders through deeper SEL implementation.

We will be communicating regularly with all 12 teams, and will share more about their experiences as the school year unfolds. Collaboratively, we will explore:

  • How effective are these ideas at increasing teacher satisfaction and retention?
  • Do strategies at certain levels of engagement have a greater impact than others?
  • Which ideas are most easily transferable to other Oakland schools?

Stay tuned to get a peek at what the teams are learning in our quest to increase teacher satisfaction and retention in Oakland!

Kate Krumrei

Kate Krumrei

Urban Promise Academy

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016-17)

Liz Woodward

Liz Woodward

International Community School

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016-17)

Michelle Palasek

Michelle Palasek

Aspire Berkeley Maynard Academy

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016-17)

The Importance of Teamwork to Teacher Satisfaction and Retention

This month, we have shared Oakland teachers’ ideas to address some of their basic needs and strengthen management support to increase teacher engagement and retention in theirs schools. As teachers ourselves, we know this foundation is critical to our satisfaction and success. In our recent Citywide Teacher Survey, we heard that many other teachers are seeking support in these areas, too.

We are thrilled that our fellow educators at La Escuelita, Madison Park Academy, Coliseum College Prep Academy, North Oakland Community Charter School, Learning Without Limits, International Community School, and Greenleaf, will have the resources to put their ideas into action through our Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program. We’re looking forward to hearing what they learn, and sharing those insights with educators across the city.

In this post, we are happy to announce the two teams who received grants to implement their ideas for cultivating teamwork, strategies that are at the next level on the Gallup Engagement Hierarchy. Teamwork has been critical to our own success and satisfaction as teachers, and we were happy to see in the Citywide Teacher Survey that many of our fellow Oakland teachers agree. We are looking forward to learning from these two schools – and others across the city – about what it takes to strengthen teamwork to support teacher and student success.
Team retreats to deepen relationships and develop a shared vision at Oakland International High School: Loraine Woodard and colleagues are implementing department retreats to increase teacher collaboration and teamwork aligned with schoolwide goals. They had successfully piloted this strategy last school year with one department, and through the Oakland Educator Retention Grant program they will now be able to expand to include three more departments this year.
Staff retreats and wellness workshops to deepen relationships and build a shared culture of wellness at ARISE High School: Nhi Truong, Josette Neal De-Stanton, Trevor Gardner and colleagues are designing two staff retreats and quarterly wellness workshops to build a shared culture of teamwork and wellness.

We have seen the power of deep relationships and a shared vision, and are proud to support these teams. We look forward to sharing what these teams are learning and finding more ways to strengthen teamwork in schools across the city.

Next week we’ll announce the final three teacher grantee teams, and their programs for professional growth to increase teacher engagement and retention. Stay tuned!

Emma Coufal

Emma Coufal

Think College Now

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Think College Now

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

 

Nina Portugal

Nina Portugal

Life Academy

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Oakland Teachers: How to Support Us in Our Work

In our post last week, we shared teachers’ ideas to address foundational needs at their sites: curriculum aligned to more challenging standards, time to plan rigorous instructional cycles, and better professional work space. We’re excited to see the effect of addressing these important basic needs at La Escuelita, Madison Park Academy, and Coliseum College Prep Academy.
This week we are honored to announce another four Oakland schools whose teachers are putting promising retention strategies into practice, focused on the next level of the Gallup Engagement Hierarchy: management support for teachers in their roles. Two schools are piloting hybrid roles for master teachers to support teachers, and two schools are working on their school culture. We think both of these approaches can increase retention of experienced and new teachers alike.
Master teachers mentoring and coaching new teachers at North Oakland Community Charter School (NOCCS): Juliana Germak and Lorin King, master teachers at NOCCS, are piloting hybrid roles that provide them with 20% release time to coach and mentor developing teachers. This strategy keeps the best teachers in the classroom, invests in their career development, and provides beginning teachers with more support (while freeing up school leaders’ time).
Designing a new hybrid role at Learning Without Limits: Sonya Mehta, lead teacher at Learning Without Limits, is studying hybrid approaches from across the country and prototyping a hybrid role that can work for other seasoned teachers across Education For Change and increase student learning schoolwide.
Developing a mindfulness practice at International Community School (ICS): Liz Woodward, Nicol Lacava, Rachel Quinn and colleagues are partnering with Mindful Schools to develop individual mindfulness practice to support teacher well-being, and then supporting students in the classroom to develop a mindfulness practice.
Building a sustainable adult work culture at Greenleaf: Kelly McBride, Victoria Diaz, Michael Lee and colleagues are partnering with The Teaching Well to build awareness, skills, and strategies to create a sustainable work culture that supports teachers’ long-term effectiveness and sustainability and directly addresses burnout.
As Oakland teachers ourselves, we’re excited about these innovative proposals. Every day, we watch our colleagues extend themselves to go “above and beyond” to meet their students’ needs. Every year, we see colleagues leave Oakland schools or leave teaching altogether, because they didn’t feel successful or supported in their roles. We know there are no easy answers nor “silver bullet” solutions, but we are proud to be a part of an effort that enables Oakland teachers to make their ideas a reality. We are eager to learn alongside our colleagues and find more ways to support Oakland teachers’ satisfaction and retention.   Stay tuned next week when we announce three more teams of Oakland teachers implementing retention strategies that tackle teamwork and career growth!
Emma Coufal

Emma Coufal

Think College Now

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Think College Now

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

 

Nina Portugal

Nina Portugal

Life Academy

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Oakland Teachers Know How Keep Teachers in Oakland!

What are the best ideas for keeping and supporting great teachers in Oakland? Ask our teachers!

Through our Citywide Teacher Engagement Survey, our Teacher Advisory Group learned a lot about the needs of Oakland teachers. Like many people across our city, we want to do something to address those needs so that teachers – our colleagues! – will continue teaching in Oakland.

Of course, a promising way to address these needs was to go straight to the experts – the teachers. We know that educators like us have important insight into what teachers need to feel satisfied and supported on the job. That’s why we created the Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program, which puts resources directly into the hands of teachers so they can implement their ideas for how to increase teacher satisfaction and retention at their schools.

We are proud to be part of an effort that listens to local teachers and invests in their ideas.

Throughout this month, we will announce the 12 Oakland teacher teams who won grants to design and implement innovative retention strategies at their sites during the 2016-17 school year. And over the course of this year, we’ll share more about their work and what they are learning. We hope this will encourage more people and organizations across the city to join us in finding ways to keep teachers teaching in Oakland.

A key finding from our survey was that we need to do a better job meeting our teachers’ basic needs, e.g., the materials and tools they need to do their jobs well.

This year, there are three retention grant teams who are working to address teachers’ basic needs in different ways at their sites.

Math curriculum at La Escuelita: Claudia Hung-Haas, Kerri Frederick, Rhonda James and colleagues are piloting personalized math professional development and curriculum to support their students’ personalized math learning. With the more rigorous Common Core State Standards in place, these teachers identified a need for supplementary curriculum and professional development to help all students access grade level standards, especially students still working to develop abstract mathematical thinking.
Better professional work space at Madison Park Primary Academy: Precious James is leading the staff in using a design thinking process to create flexible collaboration spaces that support teachers’ deep professional work. The goal: to have educators working in spaces as functional and inspiring as Google engineers!
Time to create new units at Coliseum College Prep Academy: Rachel Korschun and Kelly Leathers and colleagues are working to plan release days for teachers new to CCPA. The grant program aims to give teachers time to develop rigorous, standards-aligned units and student assessments aligned to the school-wide definition of rigor.
As Oakland teachers ourselves, we know from personal experience that it can be difficult for teachers to get resources we need. We also know that our colleagues extend themselves and their own resources to go “above and beyond” to meet their students’ needs. We are proud of how committed Oakland teachers are to their students. And we hope that by placing these important resources directly into the hands of teachers like us, these Oakland teachers will make their ideas a reality, and will have an important impact on retention at their schools.   Stay tuned next week to learn about another 3 teacher teams addressing teacher development, teamwork, and career growth.
Emma Coufal

Emma Coufal

Think College Now

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Think College Now

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

 

Nina Portugal

Nina Portugal

Life Academy

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Sharon Gray

Sharon Gray

Lodestar

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

P.S.: We’re eager to dig deeper with teachers across the city this year to understand which “basic needs” are not being met. The three grants above point to some of those needs – curriculum and professional work space. Are they also lacking classroom supplies? Held back by broken copy machines? In need of classroom books? We’re eager to identify the biggest needs and work with community groups and individuals who can help meet them!

Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group Invites Oakland Teachers to Apply for Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program

Oakland Teachers: Apply for the Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program

Support Teacher Satisfaction & Retention in Your School Sites

Today we, the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group, are fired up to mark Teacher Appreciation Day by announcing a first-of-its-kind grant program for Oakland teachers, designed by Oakland teachers. This program will provide up to $100,000 in funding to Oakland public school educators in district and charter schools to design and pilot strategies to improve teacher satisfaction and retention in their schools during the 2016-17 school year.

We want to share a little bit about who we are, why we developed this grant program, and what we’re hoping to catalyze by putting resources directly into the hands of local teachers and empowering them to develop innovative approaches to job satisfaction and teacher retention in their schools.

We talked with Sara Solar, facilitator of the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group, about our experience designing the grant program.

Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program

Learn More!

Sara Solar, Educate78: 

What is the Teacher Advisory Group?

Sharon Gray, Frick: We are 20 Oakland public school teachers from district and charter schools across the city. For the past several months we’ve come together as part of the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group, to develop initiatives to support greater teacher retention across our city.

Sara Solar: 

What led you to decide to create a grant program for Oakland educators?

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield, Think College Now: We wanted to put resources directly into teachers’ hands because we believe teachers best understand their needs. They have a better understanding of what will have a meaningful impact on their job satisfaction and what will influence their decision to continue teaching in Oakland.

Nina Portugal, Life Academy: Providing teachers with resources to make decisions about what will best serve them is professionalizing. Most grants available to teachers are focused on student outcomes. We wanted to create a grant program that would bring the focus explicitly to teacher outcomes as well, especially given the high turnover rates in Oakland. Our students’ learning depends on great teachers every year and right now we lose too many of them.

Antoinette Strain, Greenleaf: Oakland educators are hard-working, dedicated professionals who use their brain power and hearts to serve students and families as best they can, despite multiple challenges. They are relentless when it comes to ensuring that their students have access to the opportunities they deserve. We believe that Oakland teachers, given their strengths in creativity and problem-solving, are the best people to tackle issues surrounding teacher retention and sustainability. The grant program is one way to affirm the value of Oakland teachers and empower them to give the same thought and care they give to their students to themselves and their colleagues.

Sara Solar: 

What was your experience as an Oakland teacher designing the grant program for other Oakland teachers?

Emma Coufal, Think College Now: The most challenging part was wanting to create a grant proposal process that supports teacher-led pilots and is feasible for busy teachers to complete! We want the process to be meaningful for teachers, to really advance their core work, not just be another thing on their to-do list. We worked hard to create a grant proposal that supports good planning but isn’t overly burdensome for teachers.

Sharon Gray: We also really wanted to allow teachers to be creative in identifying needs and designing pilots that meet the needs at their school sites. It needs to fit in with what else is going on at the school, it needs to meet the specific teachers’ needs at the site, and it needs to push innovation a step forward at that school site, which may be different from the school down the street.

Sara Solar: 

What advice do you have for other Oakland teachers deciding whether or not to apply for a grant?

Nina Portugal: Get with colleagues and really discuss what you truly need to feel supported and professionalized in your school sites. We’re great at analyzing our students’ data and identifying strategies to support their learning based on where they are. This is our chance as teachers to do the same thing for us. What has retention looked like at your school? What are the needs identified in the data? Interview colleagues and ask: what is driving those trends? Start by seeing if there are other teachers at your site also fired up to focus on teacher satisfaction and retention.

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield: We’re using the design thinking process to support teachers in creating grant proposals. You don’t have to know what design thinking is to get started — just come with an open mind and a commitment to improving teacher satisfaction and retention! I absolutely love design thinking because it gets you thinking deeply about what the need is and how you can address that need creatively.

Sharon Gray: Grant applications can be overwhelming, especially for busy teachers. If you’re interested in participating at all, take a look at the grant overview details and fill out the interest form. We’ll get in touch right away to answer any questions and share how you can get support through this process.

Sara Solar: 

What support is available to Oakland educators who want to apply for a grant?

Emma Coufal: Grant design teams can participate in two optional but strongly recommended workshop sessions: Designing a Retention Program Using Design Thinking Workshop in May and a Writing a Strong Grant Proposal Workshop in June.

We’re so excited to launch this grant program and to support Oakland teachers to create solutions that improve their satisfaction and retention in schools across the city!

Complete information on the Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program

Learn More!
Emma Coufal

Emma Coufal

Think College Now

Sharon Gray

Sharon Gray

Frick Middle School

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Think College Now

Nina Portugal

Nina Portugal

Life Academy

Antoinette Strain

Antoinette Strain

Greenleaf

We are members of the Oakland Teacher Advisory Group convened by Educate78. For a full list of members representing public schools across Oakland, visit the Teacher Advisory Group page. We are designing teacher-led initiatives across the city to improve teacher satisfaction and retention.