Study: Indiana among worst in the nation for teacher retention

A look at one school that's bucking the trend

A recent national study by the Learning Policy Institute titled "A Coming Crisis in Teaching?" ranked Indiana among the worst in the country when it comes to retaining teachers and keeping them happy in the classroom.

The state’s average retention rate for educators, which includes teachers and administrators, is around 82 percent, meaning they keep 82 percent of their educators from school year to school year.

Teachers in Indiana are concerned more than any other state that their job security is impacted significantly by student test scores, according to the study.

The study also showed less than 50 percent of teachers in Indiana "strongly agree" that administrators are "supportive and encouraging."

The study said the highest rates of teachers leaving the profession for reasons other than retirement are found in North Dakota (10.7 percent), Arizona (8.7 percent), and Indiana (8.5 percent). 

Read the full Learning Policy Institute study here.

Experts say keeping teachers in their schools is preferred because the teachers better get to know the students, their families as well as the community.

The Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation in Hancock County is looking to buck the trend of high teacher turnover.

The district is above the state average of retention at 88 percent, and Call 6 Investigates went to find out why.

Inside the break room at Fortville Elementary, teachers can help themselves to a coffee bar, a candy bar and write a note of encouragement to their colleagues on the “Shout Out” board.

Fortville Elementary Principal Heather Noesges says she also leaves notes and treats in teachers’ mailboxes to celebrate a job well-done.

“We like to keep them happy,” said Noesges. “We work together as a family.”

A teacher at Fortville Elementary helps a student

In the break room, Noesges has a bowl of ducks reminding teachers not to “poop in the pool” or be negative.

“You don't want to be that one kid that ruins it for everybody and everybody has to get out of the pool, so that was my theme at the beginning of the year," said Noesges.

The district is able to offer teachers a starting salary of $37,836, which is more than the state average of $30,632, according to the latest 

Noesges doesn’t think compensation is a major factor for teachers, however.

“People don’t go into education for the money,” said Noesges. “They go into it because they love kids.”

The district also offers weekly professional development, as well as leadership opportunities for teachers to serve as mentors for other teachers.

“They can be a leader, but still be a classroom teacher at the same time,” said Noesges.

The efforts are paying off: Fortville had no teacher turnover in the last school year transitioning into this school year.

“That's so beneficial because we've built that relationship and we know each other and the trust is there," said Noesges. 
              
Mt. Vernon High School Principal Greg Roach said retaining teachers is vitally important for students and programming.

Roach makes it a point to talk to his teachers daily.

“I have a smile for them, and ask them how they’re doing,” said Roach. “You want your teachers to feel valued and supported maybe more than anything.”

Roach said sometimes teachers leave for reasons beyond their control, such as their spouse gets a job in another state.

Roach said they focus on what they can control, such as sending teachers to conferences and offering other ways to improve.

Mt. Vernon is working on a new comprehensive employment plan that would include gathering information from exit interviews and using that data to make necessary improvements.

Take a look at your school's turnover rate in the database below. (Hit CTRL+F on your keyboard and type in your school's name to find it more quickly. Schools are organized alphabetically by district.)

We're finishing up a special report for Monday night about the reasons why teachers are leaving. You can watch that on RTV6 News at 11 and find it on theindychannel.conm and the RTV6 app later tonight. 

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