In the last two years, teaching candidates from Oakland Teaching Fellows and Teach for America pretty much had a lock on all open special education positions in the Oakland school district.
All but three of the 70 new hires during that time period were teachers placed in Oakland schools through one of those two programs, according to a report the school district released today.
But district staff say in the report that is about to change:
This year, we made no job guarantees with OTF or TFA, so we’ll group partner program teachers and all external hires in same pool, so principals and program coordinators will be able to make the selection they deem the best fit.
The report (posted in full, below) was issued in response to a public records request from the local Community Advisory Council (CAC), which advocates for special needs children. The CAC has also questioned why the district’s in-house training and credentialing program for new special education teachers only admits interns — brand new teachers who are earning their credentials as they teach — rather than fully-credentialed general education teachers who want to make the switch.
District officials said OUSD’s special education training program is only accredited to work with intern teachers (half are from Oakland Teaching Fellows; half are from Teach for America), but that the idea of opening it up to experienced teachers “has enormous potential.”
The council is holding a meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at Metwest High School, 314 E. 10th St., to discuss OUSD’s strategic plan — and presumably, this report — with district staff.
Quick stats from the report, which includes some interesting charts and tables detailing retention rates of its teachers, by year and subject:
- As of February, there were 311 special education teachers in OUSD. Of those, 60 teachers (19 percent) held intern credentials, rather than full credentials, and 144 (46 percent) had at least five years of experience in OUSD.
- Since September 2008, 135 special education teachers have left OUSD for reasons other than retirement.
- Teachers who work with severely disabled children are more likely to stay than those who teach children with more moderate disabilities.
The retention rate for OUSD’s special education teachers, while low, looks high compared to what’s happening in math and science. Especially math, which loses more teachers than any other subject. (Less than 60 percent of the math teacher interns hired in 2009-10 came back for a second year; less than 10 percent of those hired in 2006-07 are still in an Oakland classroom.) I wonder what’s going on there.
Here’s the letter the CAC sent to the district this spring, outlining its concerns: