HR Report: DCSD retaining highly effective, effective teachers
CASTLE ROCK – The Douglas County School District (DCSD) has long said that its goal is attaining and retaining the best employees for our students. A new report shows that we are achieving that goal.
On Tuesday, September 15, DCSD’s Human Resources (HR) team presented its annual report to the Board of Education, which shows that the District is retaining 95.1 percent of employees who were evaluated as highly effective and 89.1 percent of those deemed effective during the 2014-2015 school year. Additionally, as shown in the table below, our licensed numbers nearly mirrored our District-wide numbers.
“What we originally set out to do is working. If you look at their retention rate, that is better than any District or national average I’ve seen,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Brian Cesare. “We are keeping the teacher that is the best in the District for the students.”
Historically, DCSD’s licensed turnover has hovered around 13 percent. For the 2014-2015 School Year, it was 13.3 percent.
The HR report shows that the majority of the turnover was focused on those who are not performing well.
“Our highest turnover is in the partially effective and ineffective categories,” Cesare said. “Retaining the top performers and having the highest turnover in the lower performance categories is right for our kids.”
He believes that the District’s strengthened evaluation and compensation systems are having the intended impact. Of the highly effective teachers that chose to leave the District 82 percent leave for what human resources calls “uncontrollable” reasons, like life events, moving out of state or retiring.
While Cesare says these numbers are typical, his team will not become complacent.
“We did think there is some room to improve on that,” Cesare said. “This year showed that. We increased our retention from 94 percent to 95 percent for highly effective teachers.”
DCSD is also committed to supporting and providing professional development to partially effective teachers who want to improve.
“We do not want to lose those teachers who are trending up,” Cesare said. “We understand that this system is rigorous, so we honor those who are making an effort and showing an improvement, or strides in the right direction.”
Attracting great teachers
Despite a national teacher shortage, DCSD has also been successful at attracting great teaching talent, largely due to the District’s cutting edge Market-Based Pay system and reputation for innovation.
For the past several years HR has done exit interviews, but this year the department implemented an entrance interview to find out why new hires chose Douglas County.
“I was amazed by the responses that were given to me,” said Layne Vinton a temp employee who made the calls. “Colleagues, friends and even neighbors were telling them that if you want to be part of [the reimagining of American education}, they needed to be at the Douglas County School District.”
She says many told her they were coming because of DCSD’s “strategic direction,” “progressive philosophy” and “reputation.”
Some teachers are even choosing to return to DCSD. One of them is Sara Cady, a social studies teacher at Sierra Middle School. After teaching in three states, she came home to Douglas County, because she missed the amazing colleagues, supportive administration and the District’s philosophy of empowering teachers.
“The reason I came back to Douglas County is the freedom they offered in the classroom that is so important for teachers, because it allows us to maintain our passion for teaching students. Douglas County really excels at allowing teachers to do what they are really good at,” Cady said. “After teaching in three states, I’ve never seen such great professional development and it is exciting to be on the cutting edge of all of these new educational trends.”
Additionally, Cesare says the Market Based Pay system is providing the District with leverage to get the best possible candidates, even in hard-to-find positions.
“While it is not fiscally responsible to always be the top payer, we want to ensure that we do not lose more than 2-3% of the offers for pay reasons,” Cesare explained. “We are accomplishing that.”
Cesare says the message is clear. If you are a fantastic teacher, you want to be in Douglas County.
“This is an opportunity to contribute to the future of America. It is a great, rewarding profession,” Cesare said.
Update: The graphics used in this story have been updated from previous versions in order to include more detailed data for readers. The data itself is unchanged.