School Faculty Turnover in the Merrimack Valley

By: Amy Berard – March, 2016

BERARDAccording to the most recent data available from the Massachusetts Department of Education, teacher retention rates vary from one Merrimack Valley district to the next.

Methuen boasts a teacher retention rate of 93.3%. However, their principal retention rate is 50%. 96.6% of educators and 97.7% of administrators in Methuen received evaluations. 2.8% of educators and 14.3% of principals were found to be exemplary. 3% of Methuen teachers are under 26 years of age.

Andover has a teacher retention rate of 91.6%. 55.2% of educators and 44.1% administrators in Andover received evaluations for the 2014-2015 school year. Of those receiving evaluations, 10.8% of teachers and 0% of principals were found to be exemplary. 4% of Andover teachers are under 26 years of age.

North Andover’s teacher retention rate is 88%. 97.2% of North Andover educators and 100% of administrators received evaluation. 12.2% of teachers and 9.1% of administrators were found to be exemplary. 4% of North Andover teachers are under 26 years of age.

Haverhill’s teacher retention rate is 90.1%. 25.7% of administrators and 80.6% of educators in Haverhill received evaluations this past school year. 3% of Haverhill teachers reached exemplary status. 4% of Haverhill teachers are under the age of 16.

Lowell has a 90.8% teacher and an 81.8% principal retention rate. 8.4% of Lowell teachers and 17.5% of Lowell administrators were found to be exemplary. 91.2% of educators and 87.9% of administrators were evaluated in Lowell during the 2014-2015 school year. 3% of Lowell teachers are under 26 years of age.

Recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers and administrators is essential for improving learning.

Poor teacher retention rates can hinder a school’s ability to maintain a stable and effective learning community.

High turnover of staff not only reduces collegiality and cohesion among teachers, but also negatively impacts student achievement – especially among low-income and minority students.

Low-performing schools are often the ones hurt most by teacher turnover.

Deemed chronically underperforming by the Department of Education for each year since 2012, Lawrence has a 73.7% teacher and 71.9% principal retention rate – the lowest principal and teacher retention rates in the Merrimack Valley.

The teacher retention rate in Lawrence shrinks with each year the district continues state receivership. This teacher retention rate is among the lowest in the state, Lawrence schools with the lowest teacher retention rates include: Bruce School 60.4%; Business High School 41.7%; High School Learning 54.2%; Spark Academy 66.7%.; International High School 54.1%; Health and Human Services High School 62.2%; Parthum Middle School 65.8%; Community Day 59.1%; Arlington Middle School 64.9%; and Phoenix Academy 66.7%. The principal retention rate in Lawrence is 71.9%. 97.7% of administrators and 98.8% of educators were evaluated in Lawrence.

Of those receiving evaluations in Lawrence, 17.9% of administrators and 15.3% of educators were deemed exemplary. 14% of Lawrence teachers are under 26 years of age. This is nearly 3 times the state average of teachers under 26 years of age and significantly higher than any other Merrimack Valley District.

Of all the districts in the Merrimack Valley, Lawrence has the lowest percentage of core academic classes taught by teachers who are highly qualified. In fact, 55.8% of core academic classes were taught by highly qualified teachers at the Guilmette Middle School.

While observations are subjective and the number of Lawrence teachers found to be exemplary deviated greatly from the state norm, Lawrence is losing more and more quality teachers each year judging from the low teacher retention rate and high number of exemplary teachers.

Nationwide, teacher turnover is highest in schools with weak administrative support, lack of resources, and lack of teacher empowerment in meaningful decision-making.