North Carolina has discovered that their teacher shortage comes more from not keeping the educators they already have. Teacher retention is a problem in many school systems and states but is often not addressed in the discussion over teacher quality. State leaders, of course, did the usual surveys to find the reasons for teachers bailing out. So what did they find?
A statewide survey conducted during the 2001-02 school year showed overall dissatisfaction with working conditions. Inadequate time for planning, excessive distractions and too much paperwork were among the top concerns. The survey of 42,000 teachers and other certified educators found they were least positive about demands that prevent them from planning lessons, collaborating with fellow teachers and providing one-on-one instruction. Teachers were more positive in rating their principals, with three-quarters of them ranking their bosses as good leaders.
In other words, teachers want to be able to do the things – plan, collaborate, get rid of distractions – that will allow them to be better educators. I would bet teachers in most other states would say the same thing.
Let’s face it. You can test all you want or try any number of other "reforms" but learning boils down to having a good teacher working with an interested student. The purpose of everyone else in a school (and a school system) is to get remove all the obstacles to that relationship.