The latest report on teachers leaving WCPSS had good news for the school system, but there is still work to do.
Overall, 11.29 percent of WCPSS teachers either left the profession, left to teach in another state, or left to teach elsewhere in North Carolina. This number is better than the 13.4 percent rate statewide.
WCPSS Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Doug Thilman shared this information with the WCPSS school board recently as part of a report his department created based on data from the 2015-16 school year. The report included information for teachers who were employed through March 2016, and it was broken down by the self-reported information teachers provided in an exit survey.
The data WCPSS collects is also part of the same type of study done statewide by the Department of Public Instruction as a bellwether of teacher job satisfaction. This information has received more interest in recent years as the number of teachers leaving the profession or leaving to teach in another state has increased sharply coinciding with statewide changes in salary structure, incentives, and benefits.
In years past, the teacher “turnover” report was criticized as misleading for providing incomplete information which may have inflated the percentage of teachers “leaving” because their transitions were improperly counted. Thilman offered one example: previous reports included teachers who left the classroom to become assistant principals as part of the “turnover” even if those employees stayed employed by the same school district.
The report was changed this year to better reflect the reasons teachers were leaving the profession. The report also tracks whether teachers stayed in education in North Carolina but changed to non-teaching positions, changed school districts, or took a teaching job in a charter school. Because of the changes, this year’s report data cannot be compared to previous years.
Wake’s attrition rates and reasons for leaving mirrored statewide trends in proportion, but they were still better by percentage. For example, the number of teachers who chose to come to WCPSS from another public school system or charter school is higher than the state average. Called the “recoupment” rate, this movement between districts is a way to look at the attractiveness of a school district to teachers already in North Carolina.
WCPSS and the state also tracked the reasons teachers left WCPSS, and the largest group were teachers who cited “personal reasons” such as family relocation, family needs including child care, personal health reasons, resigned to teach in another state, or dissatisfied with teaching, among others.
Other standalone categories included retirement, dismissal or contract not renewed, and remained in education in a non-teaching role such as school-based administration or central office administration.
School board members thought the data was informative. Thilman told the board that he will be sharing this information with the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan Talent Management Team to use for future planning.