- Cama-i, quyana tailuci!
- (Central Yup’ik)
- "Greetings, thank you for coming!"
Request A Survey Link
Alaska's educators were invited by email on October 26, 2020 to take an online survey about the factors affecting their current motivation to continue teaching in Alaska. The results of this survey will be used to propose practical, professional, and policy recommendations for the Governor, legislators, local education officials, and communities to help solve the persistent teacher retention and recruitment issues in Alaska.
If you did not receive your invite and would like to complete the survey please let us know!
"The cornerstone of a great educational program starts with a great teacher. Alaska for too long has suffered from high teacher turnover rates and an inability to attract and retain quality teachers in some of the most remote parts of our state.
Therefore, I’ve instructed the Commissioner of Education to assemble a working group made up of teachers, administrators, and others to review the root causes of our retention and recruitment issues, including reviewing working conditions and benefits in order to attract and retain great teachers. The Commissioner, with the help of this working group will develop a plan that addresses this issue." – Governor Mike Dunleavy, 2020 State of the State Address
The purpose of this working group is to review the root causes of Alaska’s teacher retention and recruitment issues and propose solutions to better attract and retain great teachers. Knowing the cornerstone of a great educational program starts with a great teacher, this working group will seek to problem solve this component of the system to ensure Alaska can provide an excellent education for every student every day. The Commissioner of Education, with the help of this working group, will develop a plan that proposes practical, professional, and policy recommendations for the Governor through research-based methods as well as represented stakeholder groups.
The working group is made up of members, advisors, and legislative observers representing Alaska regionally; rural, urban schools; teacher, administrator, student, school board roles; early career to long-term experience; Pre-K, K-12, higher education; and practitioners, support organizations, policy makers. Members will provide insights and discussion around the topics of:
- existing literature on retention,
- existing literature on recruitment,
- new research on priorities for leaving,
- new research on priorities for staying,
- integrated solutions with current reality,
- findings and recommendations,
- and review of written reports.
Timeline for Completing Major Tasks
Meeting Schedule and Agenda
Summary Meeting Notes
December 12, 2020:
The working group agrees we want to make sure that what we end up with is something actionable and not just theoretical. To that end, we started connecting draft results to ideas and recommendations. We discussed the need for a higher survey response rate (currently only 17%) to ensure the weight of the education workforce drives the outcomes. We outlined a marketing campaign to increase the survey response rate through the working group connecting to each of their associations and colleagues. To further brainstorm ideas for recommendations connected to the current research, we created optional, small discussion groups based on topics. We solidified our timeline, end dates, and final meeting. Throughout this process we are starting to create a vision of what the outcomes are actually going to look like as we get closer to the end.
November 21, 2020:
The working group reviewed the preliminary results from the educator survey. Given the number of respondents, the group agreed on trying to increase the number of respondents. With limited capacity at DEED to reach out to respondents, the group brainstormed other techniques to increase the response rate. In terms of draft results, the group discussed how salary and retirement benefits rose to the top and the need to disaggregate results to better understand them within the context of various subgroups of educators (for example, early career vs. mid career teachers; rural vs. urban schools). We concluded with an eye towards recommendations, the possibility of short-term and long-term recommendations, the format of one or multiple reports, and the associated timing of those recommendation reports.
October 27, 2020:
The working group spent a significant amount of time discussing the teacher retention and recruitment survey, the roll out of the survey, how to get as many educators as possible to take it, and extra details. We had an update from the recruitment team and reviewed questions for the focus groups. We reviewed the questions for the leavers interviews as well. We discussed the importance of gathering data prior to making judgements on the results - being mindful of not guessing the results. Finally, we discussed next steps of moving from research results to recommendations.
October 13, 2020:
Committee members tested the survey prior to our October 13 discussion. We then walked through the survey together and discussed changes to language and format. We also discussed how to make sure the purpose is shared in a way that will encourage participation. We are on schedule to launch October 19. We will share the survey at the Alaska Superintendents Association meeting on October 20 to ask superintendents to encourage participation. We will leave the survey open at this time until we determine the right time to close it.
September 26, 2020:
We held focus groups in August to evaluate and give feedback on a draft survey. Focus groups generally included four members of the working group engaging in conversation around specific prompts concerning the draft survey. In this September meeting we decided on one survey, multiple parts, to be distributed in the second quarter of the school year for responses. We discussed the need to clarify directions and provide examples. While the survey was an excellent first draft we identified the need to make answers more specific and offer the ability to prioritize issues that are important to educators.
We also discussed strategies to increase participation including a video invite. We volunteered the Commissioner to be our headliner to roll out the survey with a united front from leaders of all the education associations and groups, including teachers. We discussed the importance of providing dedicated time for educators to complete the survey and how we will reach out to leadership to request this time. With dedicated time and a high response rate we feel this will result in good policy to help change what is happening. Lastly, we discussed how the survey addresses recruitment and how we may still need to gather other information to support policy change at a state level concerning that topic in addition to retention.
July 28-29, 2020:
At the foundation of our work is the relationship of teacher retention to trust, student growth, and student learning. This month the working group discussed more recent, Alaska-focused research and looked at teacher retention and recruitment issues relevant today across the state. We looked at a plethora of research articles focused on leadership, systems, teacher preparation, recruitment, retention, and educator support. We recognized that many of the topics are not new, rather they have been discussed for a while and are being built upon. We considered how we need alignment and collaboration across the system, such as between K-12, higher education, and community, to address the educator retention and recruitment issues. In particular, we discussed the need for teaching through culture, or placed-based teaching, and how that looks different across the state since Alaska has communities with a predominantly single-culture and those that are multicultural. This connects to the need for community mentors in addition to teacher and principal mentors. In addition, the topic of supporting and developing leadership beyond just the superintendent and principal roles to develop shared leadership. The group also discussed revisiting and refining current solutions and not necessarily only considering new ones. The importance of increasing home-grown Alaskan educators remains an essential topic. We discussed cost-effectiveness of retaining teachers and the role of the retirement system in retention. Overall, the group encouraged developing multiple webs of support for educators at school/district, state, and community levels. We are interested in identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses connected to teacher retention to build stronger webs of support for educators, staff, leadership, and the system. By synthesizing ideas we started to curate detailed topics to go into the survey for the next stage of the group’s work.
June 23-24, 2020:
The working group's purpose is to provide practical, professional, and policy recommendations for the Governor to solve the persistent teacher retention and recruitment issues in Alaska. We had discussions in small groups that were vibrant and robust, centered around nationwide trends and issues regarding mentoring, teacher preparation, retention factors, recruitment, and equity in education. Developing home grown teachers was discussed as one important avenue to recruiting and retaining teachers who are dedicated to Alaska's education system. The list of articles discussed by members is shown below. The older articles were specifically selected to also test out our process of making and sharing notes. We recognized that many of the nationwide trends are good to look at to start and now we need to bring it back to an Alaska focus and updated research. We plan to discuss another list of intended articles, shared below, when we come back together in July. We also discussed the potential of having guest speakers and the need to understand the resources we currently have in the state. We are also going to consider how COVID-19 impacts our conversation as well as our recruitment and retention efforts.
Articles: June Reading List
Darling-Hammond, L. (2007). The Flat Earth and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future. Educational Researcher, Vol. 36, No. 6, pp. 318-334
Hanushek, E. A., & Rivkin, S. G. (2010). Constrained Job Matching: Does Teacher Job Search Harm Disadvantaged Urban Schools? NBER Working Paper No. 15816. Retrieved from https://www.nber.org/papers/w15816
Ingersoll, R., & Strong, M. (2011). The Impact of Induction and Mentoring Programs for Beginning Teachers: A Critical Review of the Research. Retrieved from https://repository.upenn.edu/gse_pubs/127
Ingersoll, R., & May, H. (2011). Recruitment, Retention, and the Minority Teacher Shortage. CPRE Research Report # RR-69. Retrieved from https://www.cpre.org/publications
Ingersoll, R., Merrill, L. & May, H. (2012). Retaining Teachers: How Preparation Matters. Educational Leadership. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ988729
McDiarmid, G. W., Larson, E., & Hill, A. (2002). Retaining Quality Teachers for Alaska. Report for UA and AK DEED. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED474247
Friday, May 29, 2020 - Kick Off Meeting:
- Completed introductions and agreed on norms for collaboration.
- Cast the vision and purpose for the working group.
- Set norms for how to conduct the work and share insights.