This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Despite efforts to more equitably distribute teachers, School District data obtained by the Notebook this spring show that schools with the highest concentration of poverty still have the most teacher turnover and the lowest percentages of highly qualified and experienced teachers.
Differences are most striking at middle schools and high schools. For instance, at high schools where more than 85 percent of the students live below the poverty line, nearly one in three teachers is not highly qualified and one in five has two or fewer years of experience. In the highest-poverty middle schools, nearly one in three teachers has two years or less of experience.
The same pattern is true for teacher retention and turnover – higher rates of poverty correlate with higher rates of turnover. Again, the differences are most striking in middle schools. Many schools lose 30 to 40 percent of their teachers or more each year.
At the same time, the data show that the District has seriously regressed since 2006 in filling all teacher vacancies by the beginning of the school year. There has also been a decline in applicants from high levels achieved between 2003-04 and 2005-06. The percentage of African American teachers has been declining as well.
26 District schools have had teacher retention rates of 75 percent or less in each of the last four years
Schools and the percentage of teachers from 2007-08 who returned in 2008-09
|School||Retention rate||School||Retention rate|
|Gillespie Middle*||33.3%||Roosevelt Middle||61.3%|
|Sulzberger Middle*||36.7%||Clemente Middle||62.1%|
|Smith Academics Plus||51.9%||Alcorn||66.7%|
|Rhodes High School||53.7%||Youth Study Center||66.7%|
|Phila. HS for Business||54.5%||L.P. Hill||66.7%|
|Turner Middle*||57.1%||Ethel Allen||70.8%|
|Vare Middle||57.1%||FitzSimons HS||72.2%|
|Dunbar Academics Plus||61.1%||M.H. Stanton||75.0%|
*school planned for closing