Develop an enhanced, comprehensive talent strategy to support the entire career continuum of teachers and school leaders that supports their ongoing professional growth and ultimately, their retention.
Context and Arkansas Progress
Research is clear that teachers are the single biggest school-related determinant of student achievement. In conversations with community members throughout the state, one of the most emphasized challenges was recruiting and retaining high-quality educators.
In 2022, nearly 23% of all Arkansas teachers either left the profession, moved schools or shifted to non-teaching roles. This rate is higher for African American teachers, teachers in high-poverty schools, and those within their first five years of teaching. Since 2015, there has also been a decline in new teachers graduating from traditional teacher preparation programs.
To build and sustain a healthy and high-quality teacher workforce, we must focus on school leaders. In fact, cultivating great school leaders and ensuring they have the strategies and support to succeed is one of the most powerful levers for impacting schools, teachers, and ultimately students.
Opportunities for Arkansas
Significant groundwork has been laid in the state in recent years, especially to attract more teachers into the profession. Arkansas should continue to enhance, expand, and clearly communicate “grow your own” teacher pipeline efforts. Below are potential starting points on a path to develop a comprehensive educator talent strategy for the next five years:
- Explore a statewide K-12 talent data system. Currently all data, such as available teaching positions, are captured and managed at the district level. In order to identify and address gaps, Arkansas needs a more robust and continuously updated view of talent needs statewide.
- Develop a robust strategy to cultivate, hire, support, and retain great school leaders. Ensure school leaders have what they need to create a strong culture for all students and educators.
- Increase the focus and investment across the state on sourcing and recruiting, preparing, and retaining highly effective educators.
Source and Recruit
- Pilot economic incentives to attract teachers and school leaders to specific regions of the state.
- Expand “aspiring leader” programs to identify and cultivate high-potential future teacher leaders and school leaders among existing school staff.
- Provide longer, practice-based experiences in schools with high quality-mentorship.
- Enhance preparation program content based on the needs of the schools and districts served.
- Ensure continuous improvement of preparation programs through strong partnerships with districts and the capture of critical data on emerging teachers and leaders during their first five years in the profession.
Develop, Support, and Retain
- As both starting and average salaries in Arkansas are some of the lowest in the region, compensation will need to be addressed. Doing so will likely require action by both state and district leaders. The state determines how much funding districts receive for teacher salaries, but district leaders decide how much to pay teachers locally.
- Pilot innovative models, such as “team teaching,” that improve the job and workload of teachers, position teachers to be more effective, and provide additional leadership opportunities.
- Expand leadership roles for teachers, beyond becoming administrators, that offer opportunities for greater impact and additional compensation.