THE HUB - Feature Article

  • Workforce Recruitment and Retention Efforts Paying Off

    Posted by Melvin Edwards on 3/8/2018

    When it comes to the work we do on behalf of more than 82,000 students, our efforts have been encapsulated in three simple words: “All Means All.”

    Through myriad approaches, tactics, and strategies, we endeavor every day to Elevate All Students and Eliminate All Gaps. That work is difficult, of course, and presents any number of challenges. Yet we persevere, constantly looking for ways to improve our work and our outcomes.

    “All Means All” applies equally to our employees and our efforts to create and enhance a quality, diverse workforce that is reflective of the students we serve. There is no question that positive experiences with successful adults of a variety of ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds – especially for students who see themselves in those adults – is a key part of helping our young people mature into the leaders of tomorrow. Such experiences also can minimize stereotyping, reduce biases, and promote the type of cultural awareness, understanding, and acceptance that is far too lacking in our society today.

    As we discussed with the Board of Education earlier this month, our efforts to both recruit and retain a quality, diverse workforce have ranged far and wide. We have recruited and hired teachers from Puerto Rico, held workshops expressly designed for potential career changers who can bring their field expertise into our classrooms, and provided extensive professional development to assist conditionally certificated teachers obtain their professional certificates.

    Our upcoming Teacher Diversity Job Fair on March 3 is designed for candidates from under-represented racial and ethnic groups, male educators (particularly at the elementary and early childhood levels), and teachers in some hard-to-fill content areas.

    Additionally, the Workforce Diversity Monitoring Team works closely with our six Regional Assistant Superintendents, who share school perspective and help implement strategies and supports designed to increase both diversity and retention.

    That work is paying significant dividends. Consider, for example:

    • The percentage of diverse teachers, guidance counselors, and similarly classified employees hired in a given year by our school system has risen 5.6 percentage points from 2014-15 to this year.
    • Since 2014-15, the percentage of diverse employees has increased in every employee bargaining unit except school administration, where it is down 0.5 percentage points.
    • Overall employee turnover has dropped from 10.3 percent in 2013-14 to 7 percent in 2016-17.
    • Turnover among teachers, guidance counselors, etc., fell 2 percentage points from 2015-16 to 2016-17, and was the same in 2016-17 as it was in 2013-14.
    • The number of teachers hired with experience increased to 54% for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years versus 50.4% during the 2015-2016 school year.

    There is much work to be done in this area. We, like virtually every school system, need to find ways to attract more candidates from what is a dwindling pool of male teachers. According to the most recent data from the Maryland State Department of Education, just 21.5 percent of newly certified Maryland teachers in 2014-15 were male, and the majority of those taught secondary subjects. Less than 10 percent of newly certified male teachers in 2014-15 were certified in elementary or early childhood.

    Further, national statistics find that 7 percent of teachers are African-American, but only 2 percent of African-American teachers are male. As we continue our work, ever mindful of our values, these numbers dictate where more work is needed at the national, state, and local level.

    We also need to find ways to engage and challenge our high school and college students to choose education as their career path. About 2,400 teachers graduate annually from Maryland colleges and universities. Yet, Maryland public schools hire an average of 5,000 teachers per year.

    Our passionate and dedicated team continues to stay focused and resolute in its efforts to ensure all students can identify with the educators in their classrooms. The “All Means All” mindset will continue to guide our work, and through partnerships at all levels and the continued creation of innovative ways to attract and retain quality, diverse employees, we are moving closer to our goals than ever before.

    The writer is Superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools, He can be reached at superintendent@aacps.org.

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