ISER researchers Dayna DeFeo, director of the Center for Alaska Education Policy Research and Diane Hirshberg, professor of education policy, were featured prominently in Education Week for a recent article on teacher turnover in Alaska.
Rural school superintendents understand the need to look for teachers who are a good fit for the community. “Superintendents spend a lot of their time on recruitment and help teachers integrate into their communities through orientation activities,” DeFeo said. This insight comes from a recent publication by DeFeo and Trang Tran, a research professional at ISER, where the authors spoke with school administrators throughout the state to learn how they are working to retain teachers.
DeFeo, Hirshberg, and Tran are authors of another report that finds the cost of teacher turnover in Alaska to be about $20 million a year.
“The teachers who stay are the ones who enjoy and participate in local activities,” according to Hirshberg. “They’re not the people who say ‘I can’t wait until the year ends so I can go back to fill-in-the-blank,’” she added.
Hirshberg observed that increasing teacher preparation in Alaska may not address the shortages and turnover since most educators graduating in Alaska tend to look for employment in urban districts rather than rural districts.
“A Perennial Challenge in Rural Alaska: Getting and Keeping Teachers,” Education Week, September 10, 2019.