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NSBA Executive Dir. & CEO Thomas J. Gentzel Provides Expert Testimony to District Policy Makers on Teacher Turnover

School districts across the country struggle to attract and retain highly qualified teachers, a situation particularly acute in the District of Columbia (D.C.), where a quarter of teachers leave their school every year.

Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director and CEO of the National School Boards Association, offered the D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) models for addressing teacher turnover and retention during its public meeting on March 20. Gentzel highlighted the innovative work being done in school districts across the country through partnerships with states and teacher preparation programs.

Districts such as Central Falls School District in Rhode Island and Kokomo School Cooperation in Indiana, Gentzel said, have used data to develop mentorship and induction programs to hit the teacher pipeline at the very first leverage point of initial preparation. Gentzel also cited how the Holmes and Yazoo County school districts in Mississippi have used data to inform strategic planning.

President of the SBOE Ruth Wattenberg noted that D.C. does not report turnover data at the school level, so Gentzel pointed them in the direction of the Learning Policy Institute and Southern Regional Education Board, which provide clinical practice observation forms and other resources for collecting and analyzing relevant data.

The SBOE was also interested in learning about school districts that are partnering with local teacher preparation programs. Gentzel emphasized that D.C. schools are poised to build meaningful relationships with local colleges.

In addition to Gentzel, the SBOE invited other education experts from the National Association of State Boards of Education and Urban Schools Human Capital Academy. During the question and answer session, Gentzel and the other panelists cautioned against an over-reliance on alternative certification programs and certain evaluation methods as the sole indicator of a teacher’s effectiveness.

Gentzel also underscored the benefits from sharing perspectives on the strategies that states, urban jurisdictions and local school boards have taken to address this issue and how important it is to work with business leaders and other stakeholders outside the education sector.

School board members from across the United States report that they are feeling the effects of teacher shortages, prompting NSBA’s Center for Public Education to publish “Fixing the Hole in the Teacher Pipeline: An Overview of Teacher Shortages,” a comprehensive report that examines the scope of the teacher shortage through state and national data.

“This issue impacts communities,” Gentzel said. “People need to recognize the struggles that school systems have, and we need to offer them opportunities to be a part of that discussion.”

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