September 24 — 11:00 pm, 2003

Teacher certification declines in schools here

While upbeat about the School District’s latest efforts at teacher recruitment and retention, a local study just released in September revealed that the School District still has far to go in recruiting and retaining qualified teachers, especially in the poorest, hardest-to-staff schools.

The report, Once & For All: Placing a Highly Qualified Teacher in Every Philadelphia Classroom, presents grim data about teacher quality in the District, including a decline in teacher certification rates over the past four years across all grade levels, from 93 percent in Fall 1999 to 89 percent in Fall 2003.

Only about half of newly hired teachers last fall were certified, according to report authors.

Teacher attrition was another major concern raised by the report, which found that about half of all new teachers leave the District after three years and one quarter after just one year.

The highest-poverty, lowest-performing schools are the most likely to have the uncertified and least experienced teachers. These schools also face higher rates of teacher turnover.

Researchers applauded the District’s recent teacher recruitment and retention efforts, including hiring coaches for new teachers, training for principals on teacher recruitment strategies, and offering financial incentives for new teachers to come to Philadelphia.

The study was conducted as part of Learning from Philadelphia’s School Reform, a four-year research project led by the nonprofit group Research for Action aimed at evaluating and helping the public understand the impact of the state takeover of the Philadelphia schools.

Copies of the report are available at www.researchforaction.org or by calling 215-823-2500, x508.

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