During the second half of the school year, some students may not have the same teacher they had in the fall. Mid-year rotation does not appear as often as the year-end round, but is likely to be more common than most people think.
Teachers in the United States are leaving the profession at a higher rate than other countries, but the debate and discussion about teachers’ burnout reflected in research and in the media focuses on educators leaving the profession before the beginning of a school year, based on the assumption that it is a turnover. Little is known about teachers who go in the middle of the year.
It is a knowledge gap that Christopher Redding of the University of Florida and Gary Henry of Vanderbilt University want to close.
“Teachers who retire by the middle of the year are not considered as they are at year-end billing,” says Redding. “So we wanted to investigate when it happens and how it affects students and schools.”
In a series of recent studies, Redding and Henry found that mid-year trips tend to be more disruptive and compatible with student learning.
Redding and Henry observed data from teachers in North Carolina and was able to distinguish the impact of pre-school sales and revenue during the school year. Researchers identified more than 13,600 first-year teachers entering North Carolina’s classrooms from 2010 to 2012, and recorded them monthly during their first three years of work.
They noted that while 4.6 percent of teachers in the state retired in the middle of the year, that figure for new teachers rose to 6 percent. Out-of-year outflows generally accounted for 25 percent of staff turnover and more frequently in high-poverty schools.
In deepening the performance question, Redding and Henry found that many math and English grades as well as a decline in learning suffered. The study found that the loss of a teacher by the middle of the year was associated with a loss of 32 to 72 days of tuition during the school year.
Redding and Henry point out three basic factors to explain this result: school disruption, instability at school, and less skilled substitute teachers.
The rotation of the teacher midway through the year, Redding says, “can reduce the social capital between the students and their families and undermine the child’s support system.”
In addition, these trips can make it a challenge for educators to create and maintain a collaborative work environment at school. If the school is forced to hire replacement staff, employees are likely to be required to help the new teacher stay up-to-date, thereby shortening his own ever scarcer and more valuable time.
Teachers who leave in the middle of the year make it difficult to fill a school with qualified teachers. “When the teacher changes take place during the school year, the administrators choose substitute teachers from a reduced group of applicants, mainly composed of teachers who have not previously been recruited for another job,” the researchers write.
In fact, one of the consequences of the national shortage of teachers, which is fed by schools with inadequate resources, low salaries and lack of support and professional working conditions, is the widespread practice of resorting to emergencies in the short term to place more teachers in the classroom.
According to the Learning Policy Institute, more than 100,000 classrooms across the country were served by non-teaching teachers at the beginning of 2017/18. In Oklahoma, for example, more than 2,100 earning certificates were issued last fall to fill the state’s classrooms. Seven years ago, the state spent only 32.
Redding and Henry also found that preparing for an alternative path also led teachers to give up the profession significantly during and after the school year. However, educators who attended traditional teacher preparation programs in the state were more likely to be transferred to another school, but rarely leave the classroom altogether.
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