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New data – same staffing inequities at high-poverty schools

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    Photo: Source: School District of Philadelphia




Despite efforts to more equitably distribute teachers, School District data obtained by the Notebook this spring show that schools with the highest concentration of poverty still have the most teacher turnover and the lowest percentages of highly qualified and experienced teachers.

Differences are most striking at middle schools and high schools. For instance, at high schools where more than 85 percent of the students live below the poverty line, nearly one in three teachers is not highly qualified and one in five has two or fewer years of experience. In the highest-poverty middle schools, nearly one in three teachers has two years or less of experience.

The same pattern is true for teacher retention and turnover – higher rates of poverty correlate with higher rates of turnover. Again, the differences are most striking in middle schools. Many schools lose 30 to 40 percent of their teachers or more each year.

At the same time, the data show that the District has seriously regressed since 2006 in filling all teacher vacancies by the beginning of the school year. There has also been a decline in applicants from high levels achieved between 2003-04 and 2005-06. The percentage of African American teachers has been declining as well.

26 District schools have had teacher retention rates of 75 percent or less in each of the last four years
Schools and the percentage of teachers from 2007-08 who returned in 2008-09

School Retention rate School Retention rate
Gillespie Middle* 33.3% Roosevelt Middle 61.3%
Sulzberger Middle* 36.7% Clemente Middle 62.1%
Smith Academics Plus 51.9% Alcorn 66.7%
Rhodes High School 53.7% Youth Study Center 66.7%
Phila. HS for Business 54.5% L.P. Hill 66.7%
Locke 55.2% Cramp 69.2%
Turner Middle* 57.1% Ethel Allen 70.8%
Vare Middle 57.1% FitzSimons HS 72.2%
Shaw Middle 57.7% Hartranft 73.5%
Stetson Middle 60.0% Potter-Thomas 73.7%
Carroll HS 60.0% Kenderton 74.1%
Tilden Middle 60.5% Munoz-Marin 74.1%
Dunbar Academics Plus 61.1% M.H. Stanton 75.0%

*school planned for closing

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Paul Socolar

Paul is the Notebook's former editor and publisher and also one of its founders in 1994.