The Schools Teachers Leave: Teacher Mobility in Chicago Public Schools

Rachel Roseberry

Consortium on Chicago School Research
June 2009

Chicago is the third largest city in the country and the hometown of our nation's president and as such, has naturally been playing a much larger role in the political realm. The educational research world must have noticed because Chicago and the Chicago Public School System have also had a large presence in several recent reports.

One of these recent reports, by the Consortium on Chicago School Research, discusses teachers and why they leave the district.. The report states that while CPS's district-wide turnover is normal compared to other districts, a closer look reveals that in Chicago, half of the teachers leave their school buildings every five years. It can be easily conceded that such turnover would impair effectiveness for any school and leads to the obvious question: why?

According to the study, younger, new teachers are more likely to leave than older teachers, with the exception of the oldest teachers leaving for retirement. Low-achieving, low-income, predominantly African-American schools have more turnover. Larger percentages of teachers stay in schools where they feel a "climate of collective responsibility and innovation." It is important to note that the report's authors acknowledge several flaws in the study. There is no data for charter schools and since they are only assessing CPS, they cannot tell where a person goes if he/she leaves a CPS school and does not transfer to another CPS school.

Thus, while turnover in CPS looks average when compared to other districts, it might not be average. President Obama is taking his education cue from Chicago (as indicated in an interesting, antique piece of New York Times election coverage, see here, citing Fordham's own Mike Petrilli!) and so should districts and states like Ohio by taking steps to ensure that effective, qualified teachers remain in their schools.

Read the report here.

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