Reporting on Delaware’s School Hiring Practices
The University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration recently released the eleventh annual “Delaware Teacher and Administrator Supply and Demand Survey Analysis Report.” The report focuses on teacher and administrative hiring, including hiring difficulties, recruitment strategies and incentives, and teacher departures, such as vacancies and shortage areas. Overall, this year’s survey results are consistent with last year’s findings, with new insights into the hiring of inexperienced teachers and hiring in high-needs schools.
The report highlights a slight increase from last year of teachers hired on regular contracts in July or earlier, a 17.8% improvement from two years ago. Hiring teachers as early as possible gives them the opportunity to be integrated into the school team, get their classrooms set up, and start focusing on the job of educating. It additionally allows Delaware to be competitive with neighboring states in attracting the highest-quality educators. Despite this progress, there are opportunities for improvement moving forward as we are still hiring nearly 47% of our new teachers in August or later and only 18% in May or earlier.
New to the survey this year, the report states that of the new teachers hired on regular contracts for the 2012-2013 school year, 40.8% were first-time teachers who were new to the teaching profession. There were four school districts in which 40% or more of their new teachers were first-time hires. Despite this large percentage of new hires, the survey found that the percentage of teachers who left the teaching profession within their first five years held consistent at 37%. Although this percentage represents a slight improvement from previous years, perhaps a larger focus on preparation as a result of legislation passed this session, in addition to stronger on-boarding and continued support for new teachers will be beneficial for retaining teachers new to the profession.
Recruiting and retaining teachers in core subject areas and high-needs schools are often considered to be difficult for districts. The survey indicated that Delaware school districts continue to have the most difficulty filling teaching positions in foreign languages and high school math and science. This year, the report also attempted to gauge how difficult it is to fill teaching positions at high-needs school. The survey found only ten districts found this applicable, with only one district stating that it was very difficult to fill these positions, while five districts identified it as moderately difficult and four as not difficult. Of these ten districts, 700 new teachers were hired, with a slightly higher percentage than the average having no prior teaching experience, and a high number of these hires occurring in August.
In addition to recruiting new teachers in the areas where they are needed the most, districts must also consider the growing number of teachers retiring from the teaching profession. According to the survey, the reported numbers of teachers retiring increased by nearly 14 percentage points from last year. We will have to wait and see if this is an anomaly or indicative of a trend; however, it may suggest that the effects of the recession on delayed retirement may be wearing off.
The survey lends some valuable insight into teacher and administrator hiring and departure; however, overall, the results are consistent with years past. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if the recession and its aftermath continue to have less of an impact on teacher hiring and retirement throughout the state, and if Delaware can make improvements to reach both district and student needs.