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Project Idaho: Hundreds of teachers leaving the classroom before retirement

Project Idaho: Hundreds of teachers leaving the classroom before retirement (CBS 2 Photo)

According to the 2018 Teacher Pipeline Report more than a 1,000 teachers leave Idaho classrooms every year for reasons other than retirement.

Until this problem is resolved the state will be playing catch up with a need more than 1,750 new teachers each year. The cost to the state is about $7 million annually.

"We sit above ten percent of educators leave within their first five years and that number has held steady and continued to grow," said Kari Overall, president of the Idaho Education Association.

A report by the Idaho State Board of Education found that the rest of the country has an average teacher turnover rate of about 8 percent. Based on the consistency of Idaho's rate it's likely that 1,600 teachers will leave the profession next year. About 1,100 of them will leave for reasons other than retirement.

"Pay is a factor," said Sherri Ybarra, superintendent of public instruction. "I think we need to look at that and I also think it's great that our governor is looking at raising teacher pay. The other thing that we've learned through research is that a lot of our teachers are not staying in the profession and so we're losing our veterans."

She says better pay for both early career educators and veteran educators is being addressed in the budget but it's not the only factor.

"I was an early teacher once too and I understand the importance of having a great mentor and so making sure that we have those programs in place so that we have teachers make it past what we call the three to five year threshold which means research points to if they stay between three to five years they're likely to stay within the profession," Ybarra said.

The teacher pipeline report shows that 15 percent of new teachers in Idaho leave after the very first year.

"Early career educators are phenomenal. Veteran educators are phenomenal. But you need both," Overall said. "You need that support across the whole school. You need veteran educators to be there to support early career educators and early career educators need mentors to help them through those early years."

Overall says this type of constant turnover can burden both districts and their students.

"Districts feel like they never get ahead. They're constantly retraining educators which can sometimes make it difficult for student achievement to increase," Overall said. "We would like to see the longevity in districts across the state so that students have access to well trained and qualified educators regardless of the district that they live in."

"It's going to take a lot of local initiatives and state initiatives to help address this issue," Ybarra said. "It took us a long time to get to this point where we're at in the educator shortage and it's likely going to take us just as long to turn it back around."

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We are making a long-term commitment to reporting on education.

Are you a former Idaho educator? Email us at ProjectIdaho@kboi2.com

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