The recruitment and retention of highly effective teachers in rural districts is a major challenge to accelerating achievement for students living in high poverty communities. Young, single, skilled, high-energy teachers cannot be expected to devote 24x7 to their students and schools. With few amenities, many rural school districts struggle with retaining the best and brightest teachers.
Recent survey data reveals that some districts have replaced as many as 33% of the teaching staff every year for three consecutive years. The condition is particularly acute in literacy, mathematics, science, and world languages. So children in rural, high poverty districts lag behind their counterparts in more affluent school districts. Though the condition is stunning, the absence of strategy to ensure children have continuous access to highly effective teachers is more shocking then the condition.
At Pizza Hut, talent management is a combination of art and science. In public education, talent management is a misnomer. Compensation is in the bottom of the barrel, incentives are non-existent, recognition a popularity contest, and the out migration of highly effective personnel is tolerated and rarely understood.
When a collaborative of five rural districts pooled resources and trained their leadership teams on talent management, they reversed the out migration of their teachers by 33%. The cost was modest and the outcome demonstrable and significant. It is notable that state and local aid to education does not provide for cutting edge approaches to talent management. There can be little wonder that the pipeline for highly effective teachers is thin. The profession is increasingly a pass through for young people on journeys to other fields. States and communities that ignore international research on teacher policies and teacher education put high educational performance and community stability in peril.