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“What’s the Real Story on K-12 Employee Absences” examined absence data from 4,450 public district. (Click to enlarge)

Districts spend over $25 billion annually on teacher absences, and consistent absences negatively impact student achievement, past studies have shown. A recent study examined teacher and classified staff absence data during that month from4,450 public districts.

In this objective look into a subject that has generated much debate, Ovid K. Wong and Chak Lau examine critical elements in preparing teachers and decision-makers for the tenure application process.

4/5/2016

Many states and districts are facing unprecedented teacher shortages. As a result, many have implemented or are expanding existing programs that offer alternative routes to licensure or certification for those seeking to become teachers from another career.

The Upsala Area School District in Minnesota created incentives that have enticed teachers like Heather Johnson, from Upsala Elementary School, to retire when the school year ends.

For many districts, early retirement incentives are considered a good business practice—a way to cut top-heavy payrolls and replace teachers whose heart may no longer be in the classroom. But without good planning, these incentives can have unintended financial and academic costs. 

Teachers are coming out of classrooms to build trust with parents. Teachers visit K8 students in the fall to learn more about families. A second home visit in the spring is about building academic skills and sharing information.

At the Tacoma School District in Washington, Heather Gooch is a substitute teacher at Mann Elementary School. Tacoma recently started using social media and paying subs more in harder-to-fill schools. It has improved the quality of subs there.

Amid a nationwide shortage, some districts have strengthened certification requirements, increased communication with substitutes and hired staffing agencies to keep their classrooms full.

Francine Costello, above, is a retired teacher from New Jersey who works as a substitute teacher for Brevard County Public Schools in Florida. She earned a Master of Arts degree from Kean University, and specializes in exceptional student education.

Several districts have found new ways to connect with and retain quality substitutes.

Use social media. Tacoma Public Schools finds emergency substitutes via Facebook or Instagram who agree to be available when teachers call in sick.

Barbara Blackburn is one of the nation’s foremost authors on student engagement and increasing rigor. Ronald Williamson is a professor of educational leadership at Eastern Michigan University.

Is there a motivation problem with teachers in your district? If so, you’re not alone. It’s a common problem, particularly once the school year is under way and there are multiple demands on teacher time.

At the Spokane Educators Career Fair in Washington last year, teacher candidates look for jobs.

Superintendents are turning to an array of new and creative strategies, such as starting the hiring process earlier, looking farther afield for recruits, offering perks and signing bonuses to new hires, and ramping up efforts to help candidates earn teaching credentials.

Despite anecdotal evidence that schools across the country face hiring challenges, statistical proof of a shortage is hard to come by. Federal data for 2011-12, the most recent available, shows a decline of less than 1 percent since 2007-08 in the number of public school teachers, and only a tiny increase in the student-teacher ratio.

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