Teacher attrition

Teacher attrition in the Wilkes County Schools in 2018-19 differed little from the prior three years, according to a new report from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

The “Annual Report on the State of the Teaching Profession” said the teacher turnover rate in the Wilkes schools was 11.5% in 2018-19. It was presented to the N.C. Board of Education on Feb. 5.

This is based on 70 of the 607 teachers employed by the Wilkes schools leaving the system in 2018-19, including 30 who left and started teaching in public schools elsewhere in North Carolina and another 40 who left and didn’t go to public schools elsewhere in the state.

Among the 40 who left the Wilkes schools and didn’t go to work in public school systems elsewhere in the state, 31 left for personal reasons, one was released by school officials, seven left for reasons “beyond the control” of the school system and one left “for other reasons.”

Sixty-eight of the Wilkes County Schools’ 625 teachers left in 2017-18, resulting in a teacher turnover rate of 10.9%. The Wilkes rates were 11.2% (71 of 632 teachers) in 2016-17 and 11.6% (75 of 643 teachers) in 2015-16.

The statewide teacher turnover rates were 13.3% in 2018-19 and 12.5% in 2017-18.

The new report listed the Wilkes schools with a 43% “teacher recoupment rate” in 2018-19. That refers to teachers hired to work in the Wilkes schools on or after March 2018 after they left another school system elsewhere in North Carolina. Forty-three percent is based on 30 teachers hired after they left other school systems.

The Wilkes schools’ “teacher recoupment rate” was only 17.6% in 2017-18, based on hiring 12 teachers who left other school systems.

Dr. Westley Wood, Wilkes schools’ assistant superintendent for personnel and human resources, said efforts are continuing to lower the school system’s overall attrition rate, recruit college graduates and recruit teachers from other districts across the state.

“Such efforts include growing partnerships with teacher preparation programs, maintaining high quality human resources services, providing a high quality teacher orientation program and continued reflection on the district Beginning Teacher Support Plan,” said Wood in an email.

“This year, Wilkes County Schools has hosted over 180 interns and student teachers, just from Appalachian State University. Due to our proximity to Appalachian State and the number of schools/positions we have, many of these students will want to begin their careers with Wilkes County Schools,” said Wood.

He said exceptional children’s teaching positions, exceptional children support positions, secondary math, secondary science, technology teachers, agriculture teachers and health occupations teachers are among teaching areas in Wilkes schools that continue to be considered hard to fill areas.

“Data indicates that there are twice as many exceptional children teaching vacancies as there are in other areas across the state.”

He said that beginning with the 2019-20 school year, Wilkes County Schools began offering bonus pay for new hires who chose to work in hard to fill areas in Wilkes schools.

Wood explained that the hiring bonus consists of $3,000 over a three-year period. The local school system has invested over $40,000 towards these incentives so far this year, he said.

These incentives are funded by district Federal Title 2 funds (Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High Quality Teachers). This strategy was incorporated into the district Title 2 plan for 2019-20 that was approved by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, said Wood.

The Wilkes school system is part of Region 7 (Northwest region), which had the lowest teacher attrition rate out of the eight regions in the state in 2018-19. The regions with the highest attrition rates are in southeastern and northeastern North Carolina.

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