The educational system is experiencing a teacher shortage problem. Retiring "baby boomers" are exiting the teaching profession at an alarming rate and there are many other factors draining the system. Researchers theorize poor salary, poor administrative support, student discipline problems, lack of faculty influence and autonomy, poor student motivation, no opportunity for professional advancement, inadequate time to prepare, intrusions on teaching time, and large class sizes are all factors contributing to poor retention rates. Researchers also predict nearly 2.7 million newly hired teachers will be required to keep pace with growing student populations in the next decade.
In 2004, a Delaware study indicated over 60% of teachers vacated their current teaching positions. Delaware is feeling the effects of the global teacher shortage and it has become important for school districts to address this issue.
Despite a state of the art facility, Superior ranking by the State of Delaware, and Middle States accreditation, Caesar Rodney High School has not been immune to the teacher retention problem. Over a three year period from 2002-2005, the school lost an average of 17.2% of its teachers. The cost of rehiring and retraining for these positions has become overwhelming, time consuming, and costly. In order for Caesar Rodney High School to become a "great" school, this executive position paper was designed to identify and understand the factors that cause teacher departures. The goal was to reduce the number of leavers to permit the reallocation of time, resources and money to other school priorities.
To understand the issues affecting teacher retention, surveys of teacher leavers and current staff members were distributed. Focus groups and interviews helped elaborate on critical topics. At the conclusion of data collection and analysis, tangible factors were identified for consideration.
Former and current teachers at Caesar Rodney High School held the administration liable and challenged the administration to improve conditions at Caesar Rodney High School. There was a request for improved teacher administrator relationships, more consistent discipline, more effective professional development, and an enhanced mentoring program. Because of the focus group success in developing these solutions, I suggested similar groups be formed to revisit, revise, and implement the strategies to the entire school. In doing so, Caesar Rodney High School would move to a more collaborative leadership approach incorporating a teacher and administrator partnership to address school issues.