Education

CMS teachers less likely to stay in education, state report says

CMS parents and students held a 2014 rally for better pay for teachers and less testing.
CMS parents and students held a 2014 rally for better pay for teachers and less testing. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Not only did Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have higher-than-average turnover last year but the teachers who left were less likely to stay in education than those statewide, according to new details released this week.

A report to the N.C. Board of Education last week showed that CMS had 16.5 percent teacher turnover last year, a 12-year district high and well above the state average of 14.8 percent. CMS lost 1,420 of 8,609 teachers between March 2014 and March 2015.

That report also showed that the number of teachers who resigned for personal reasons, including career changes and dissatisfaction with teaching, had soared statewide over the last two years. But the local breakdowns on reasons for leaving were clearly incorrect. After reporters raised questions, the state issued a revised report Monday.

That showed that 49 percent of the CMS teachers who left did so for personal reasons, compared with 40 percent statewide. Only 24 percent of the CMS teachers who left stayed in education, compared with 31 percent statewide.

Superintendent Ann Clark said Tuesday that part of the problem is statewide, from reductions in teacher assistants to salaries that aren’t competitive with nearby states. “Compensation does matter. Working conditions do matter,” she said.

She said the most important thing CMS can do is to affirm the value of teachers and create career paths that allow them to earn more and expand their skills without leaving the district – or, ideally, leaving the classroom. For instance, CMS continues to expand the number of schools participating in the Opportunity Culture program, which pays significantly more for high-performing teachers who take on more students and/or coach colleagues.

The Wake County Public School System, the state’s largest district, had similar breakdowns, with 45 percent of the 1,355 teachers who left citing personal reasons and 21 percent saying they took other jobs in education, such as working for charter, private or other district schools. But the district had lower overall turnover at 13.4 percent.

Forced departures accounted for a bigger share of Wake’s turnover, but its dismissal rate appears to be only slightly higher than the state average. According to the report, 1,122 of North Carolina’s 96,081 teachers were fired, forced to resign or not given contract renewals, for a 1.2 percent dismissal rate. CMS’ came to 1.2 percent. Wake, with 10,144 teachers and 183 forced departures, had a rate of 1.8 percent.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

Why teachers left

Here are reasons teachers cited for leaving jobs in North Carolina, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Wake County public schools in 2015. Personal reasons can include dissatisfaction with teaching or career changes. Those who stayed in education took jobs in other districts, charter or private schools. “Beyond control” includes retirement and death. Dismissals include firings, resignation in lieu of dismissal and failure to renew contracts.

Personal

Stayed in

education

Beyond

control

Dismissed

Other

N.C.

40%

31%

15%

7%

7%

CMS

49%

24%

14%

7%

6%

Wake

45%

21%

11%

14%

9%

Source: N.C. Department of Public Instruction

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