Tuesday, January 8, 2008

[Public Education] Dispelling Myths Around Teaching

From Education Week (free registration required, sorry), some contention over the belief that "half of teachers are out of teaching five years after their degree."

Disclaimer: I have repeated that statistic often, and not to my credit (as it turns out).

From the article:

"About half of all new teachers leave the profession after just five years on the job."

-The Plain Dealer, Dec. 3, 2006

It’s a neat and memorable statistic that’s been repeatedly cited by news reporters, advocacy groups, union officials, and state education departments, among others.

Trouble is, it is arguable and often used misleadingly.

Richard M. Ingersoll, the University of Pennsylvania professor whose calculation was first rounded up to the “half” figure in a 2003 report, sticks to upwards of 40 percent. Other scholars, such as Linda Darling-Hammond, an education professor at Stanford University, say the most defensible estimate is about a third. Some of the difference between the figures is accounted for by teachers who leave and return to the profession.

New studies of state rather than national retention suggest even a third might be high. Just 22 percent of California teachers left for good in their first four (rather than five) years, and in Illinois the figure was 27 percent in five years.

Go read the rest; it's got some good info about minority districts (and teachers), and since it's behind a partial firewall I'm not going to excerpt the whole thing.


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