What we’re reading: D.C. Voices: Teacher retention and recruitment during the pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new challenges to retaining teachers and the traditional teacher hiring process. New analysis from Chelsea Coffin and Tanaz Meghjani at the D.C. Policy Center explores some of the teacher workforce data from D.C. public schools, and reports on how key education officials and educators there are thinking about teacher retention and recruitment during the COVID-19 crisis.

Coffin and Meghjani explain why COVID-19 closures may exacerbate attrition numbers for D.C.:

...workloads have shifted to accommodate distance learning, and more people are experiencing mental health issues at a time when mental health resources are difficult to deploy. These changes could lead to an increase in resignation rates, especially among older teachers who were already planning to retire in the next few years.

And while D.C. has not had issues with teacher recruitment for a number of years, their luck could change this year. State the authors:

...COVID-19 has introduced several obstacles to the traditional recruitment process, the greatest being that schools are unable to meet with candidates in-person. As a result, most school leaders are learning to navigate a virtual recruitment cycle for the first time. They're experimenting with video conferencing, virtual school tours, and other online platforms to introduce themselves to candidates and gauge whether those candidates would be good fits. Organizations in D.C. are also working together to host virtual teacher recruitment fairs that give teachers and schools a chance to connect. These efforts are important and will hopefully prove effective, but it's important to note that for the 2018-19 school year, more than half of new hires were not teaching at a D.C. LEA the year prior, which means they either came from a private school, were on leave from teaching, or came from a school outside the District. This might make it much more difficult to recruit the necessary number of teachers, since about half of our filled positions in 2018-19 consisted of teachers who weren't already physically here.

Read the full piece from D.C. Policy Center to see more data and learn about how D.C. is thinking about these issues, including perspectives from DCPS Chancellor Dr. Lewis Ferebee, EdFuel Managing Partner Kelly Gleischman, Executive Director at Teach For America D.C. Region Adele Fabrikant, and Paul PCS teacher Caitlin Earle.

For more on teacher hiring and retention, see: