Educational Leaders: Retain Your Teachers With These Useful Strategies
Many teachers remain overwhelmed by the needs of their students two years after the pandemic. Recent NAEP scores for 13 year olds show a decline of four points in reading and nine points in math since pre-COVID assessments. Due to teacher shortages, many educators have taken on additional responsibilities while feeling tired and frustrated by opportunity gaps, particularly in literacy learning.
Even though teachers have worked diligently to accelerate learning to make up for lost instructional time, many are faced with widening opportunity gaps as seen through the increase of non-proficient readers. Educators need evidence-based resources and tools to close opportunity gaps without it being an additional heavy lift. And they need administrative support to thrive.
The Cost of Teacher Turnover
Teachers are leaving the profession at a higher rate than in years past. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average turnover rate for public schools is approximately 16%. However, traditional and charter public schools, particularly in urban areas, may have a turnover rate of more than 30%, whereas suburban schools may have a turnover rate as low as 5%. Teacher attrition in schools that serve lower-income communities can often be 50% higher than average.
There are real costs to losing experienced teachers, and recruiting and retaining new teachers is more expensive than retaining experienced ones. The cost to replace a teacher ranges from $9,000 in rural areas to $21,000 in cities. Experienced teachers are highly valuable to schools and districts, because they know their school cultures and climates and their students well, and they have a high level of knowledge and experience about how their students learn best. However, teachers who report a lack of feeling supported by their leadership are more than twice as likely to leave the profession.
How to Retain Your Best Literacy Teachers
Educators want to be part of a supportive school environment and feel their contributions are valued. Forty percent of teachers cited dissatisfaction with their administration as the most important factor influencing their decision to leave. Fortunately, there are ways administrators can demonstrate their support of teachers as professionals.Research reveals a positive school culture and job satisfaction are important factors for teachers to remain in the profession. Both of these elements start at the top, with strong leadership that benefits educators and students. Leaders who make positive school culture a priority may likely see better staff retention.
One of the best ways to retain literacy teachers and close opportunity gaps is to help move teachers from surviving to thriving. With the right investments, they can feel supported within the profession. Empowering teachers and helping them thrive and feel confident and effective in their abilities enables them to improve academic outcomes for students. Here are specific ways to invest in your teachers and improve literacy outcomes:
- Invest in district wide professional learning based on the science of reading. Literacy teachers need a deep understanding of how to teach students to read based on the science of reading methodology. There is extensive research about how and why students need to learn to read with systematic and explicit instruction. When teachers receive high-quality professional learning, they report feeling more confident in their teaching, with students learning more effectively.
- Provide evidence-based, flexible instructional strategies and high-value instructional materials based on the science of reading and engage students. Ninety-five percent of all students can learn to read proficiently if taught in a systematic and explicit manner, including Emergent Bilinguals and students with dyslexia. The vast opportunity gaps need to be addressed with evidence-based literacy programs that have demonstrated results. Investment in these programs yield long-term positive results.
- Consider changing the school day to find time for teachers to collaborate with each other. Educators having time together inspires collegiality and helps teachers support each other. Creating a professional culture of trust and authenticity helps teachers feel valued as professionals.
- Arrange schedules differently to make time for more direct instruction. Direct, explicit instruction is proven to lead to better literacy outcomes, with improvements in opportunity gaps in the area of literacy.
Administrators who invest in their teachers through deep meaningful and sustained professional learning, and provide educators with evidence-proven teaching materials and resources, will be rewarded with more professionally satisfied teachers, improved academic outcomes, and greater retention of their staff.
How Lexia® Can Help Your Literacy Teachers Thrive
Lexia’s portfolio of products is firmly grounded in the science of reading. Educators can feel confident in these high-quality resources to close opportunity gaps and help create proficient readers. In particular, districts should consider Lexia’s two professional learning programs, Lexia LETRS® Professional Learning and Lexia Aspire™ Professional Learning and instructional programs Lexia® Core5® Reading and Lexia® PowerUp Literacy®.
Lexia LETRS Professional Learning
Lexia LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) Suite is comprehensive professional learning designed to provide early childhood and elementary educators and administrators with deep knowledge to be literacy and language experts in the science of reading.
Lexia Aspire Professional Learning
This digital, flexible, and self-paced solution empowers upper-elementary and middle school educators with knowledge and skills to apply the science of reading to accelerate students’ literacy skills.
Lexia Core5 Reading
Core5 is for pre-K–5 students and addresses skills in six areas of reading and accelerates the development of literacy skills for students of all abilities. It supports explicit, systematic, cumulative, diagnostic, and responsive instruction that builds from basic to increasingly complex skills.
Lexia PowerUp Literacy
PowerUp accelerates literacy gains for students in grades 6–12 who are at risk of not meeting College- and Career-Ready Standards to make multiple years of growth in a single academic year. It centers on skills older readers need, as well as content-based delivery and visual representations to build comprehension.
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