Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Seeking Experienced Educators; Duval Board Eyes Link between Struggling Schools, Teachers Short on Seasoning

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Seeking Experienced Educators; Duval Board Eyes Link between Struggling Schools, Teachers Short on Seasoning

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski

The Duval County School Board will discuss whether too many inexperienced teachers are working at the district's worst-performing schools and what can be done to recruit and retain seasoned educators for those classrooms.

The issue is among a half-dozen items on the board's agenda for a 10 a.m. Tuesday workshop.

Board Vice Chairwoman Betty Burney said these poor-performing schools have "a constant turnover" of teachers, some of whom are replaced with novices, including those right out of college. Although they might be talented, new teachers don't have the knowledge or experience to help academically struggling students succeed, she said.

"Research shows that a child could lose one to two years of academic skills because of an ineffective teacher," Burney said.

District staff is expected to update the board at the workshop about the breakdown of new and experienced teachers at county schools.

"I want the district to find a way to get the balance between new and seasoned teachers in the schools," Burney said. "Our successful schools have a steady progression of teachers, and they don't seem to have the turnover that our challenged schools do."

The district offers salary incentives to attract and retain experienced teachers at the poor-performing schools, but Burney said that might not be enough.

Teachers can receive a $5,000 signing bonus at schools receiving federal School Improvement Grants.

Some seasoned teachers, Burney said, might be "gun shy" about working in a poor-performing school because of negative public perception propagated by the news media.

"And it's more work to teach in a challenged school," Burney said.

But that hard work can have big benefits, she said.

"I think the No. 1 thing we need to do is to provide teachers with the notion that they have the opportunity to truly show how well they really can teach by working at a challenged school," Burney said.

In February, an Education Resource Strategies report showed that, district-wide, Duval County's percentage of novice teachers in elementary schools is comparable to other school districts. …

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