Last week, BTW wrote an article regarding the teacher turnover rates recently released by SCPS public schools. In case you need a refresher, SCPS presented a report about the subject to the School Board at their meeting last week and they also sent out a press release. According to those documents, SCPS turnover rate is down 3%, which is fantastic news! However, one thing that I noticed about the information was that it included all licensed employees. Take a look at a snap from the report:
These numbers refer to licensed staff (excluding admins, which means Principals and Assistant Principals), not simply teachers. Licensed staff can include a variety of employees: speech pathologists, school psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, the list is actually quite long. SO long, in fact, that it could influence these attrition rates. Let's grab a number from the list above, the total licensed staff for last year, 2050, and stick a pin in it.
I addressed this subtle difference in my previous article: people aren't necessarily concerned about how many school psychologists may be leaving, there is no national shortage of physical therapists. Something felt off but I didn't have the numbers that demonstrated my concerns with SCPS' analysis. But then I stumbled across this document as I was cleaning my very cluttered computer desktop. The numbers from the document pictured below comes from the staff position proposal presented to the SB on May 9th (please click the link above to view the entire document.)
So, what do these numbers tell us? Just a cursory glance at the data shows that in 2017, there were 1842 teaching positions at SCPS ( I am going to eliminate the .67 for this discussion.) I am not including the other teaching positions referenced above because I have no idea how those teachers are differentiated from the other group, pay and responsibilities could be very different. Remember how I said to stick a pin in that 2050 number? That is the number of total licensed employees at SCPS. That is a difference of over 200 positions, might this not throw off the teacher attrition percentage? Like I said before, BTW is not concerned with how many psychologists and therapists are leaving, those professions aren't facing critical shortages. BTW cares about TEACHER attrition rates, that is where SCPS is facing problems.
Unfortunately, BTW can't do any further analysis without the appropriate data. It is impossible to know how many of the 235 people who left last year, as referenced in the first chart, are actually teachers. To calculate the number strictly for teachers, we would need to know how many teachers left SCPS and subtract out the other licensed employees who left. It would also be wonderful if SCPS could report on this same calculation for the previous school year (2016) as well, so that we could have an apples to apples comparison.
It is possible that this calculation doesn't hold any bad news, maybe the rate for attrition of teachers is actually better than the 11 percent listed above. SPECULATION ALERT: However, IF all of the employees who left last year were teachers, all 235 of them, and using the 1842 number listed in the position proposal, then the teacher attrition percentage would be almost 13%. Further, if we use a little deductive reasoning and use last year's number of total teachers (1842), apply that number to 2016, then take the total number of resignations from 2016 from the chart above (288), the percentage of teacher attrition for 2016 would be 15.6%! These numbers are completely speculative, though, we can't know for sure unless SCPS decides to release the more specific data.
Either way, at least the way this data is presented, fewer employees left SCPS last year that the previous year and that is good news. As BTW has reported, teachers can still leave before the next school year begins but those numbers will be added to next year's attrition rates since the fiscal year is being used to calculate the numbers. I do wonder how the data might look different if the school year was used instead. I hope that SCPS decides to share these more specific numbers regarding teacher attrition as opposed to licensed employee attrition rates if for no other reason than it could shed more light on the issue.