• The Cost of Teacher Turnover in Alaska

      DeFeo, Dayna Jean; Tran, Trang; Hirshberg, Diane; Cope, Dale; Cravez, Pamela (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-03-31)
      Low teacher retention - high turnover - affects student learning. Teacher recruitment and retention are challenging issues in Alaska. Rates vary considerably from district to district and year to year, but between 2004 and 2014, district-level teacher turnover in rural Alaska averaged 20%, and about a dozen districts experienced annual turnover rates higher than 30%. High turnover rates in rural Alaska are often attributed to remoteness and a lack of amenities (including healthcare and transportation); teachers who move to these communities face additional challenges including finding adequate housing and adjusting to a new and unfamiliar culture and environment. Though urban districts have lower teacher turnover rates, they also have challenges with teacher recruitment and retention, particularly in hard-to-fill positions (such as special education and secondary mathematics) and in difficult-to-staff schools. Annually, Alaskan school districts hire about 1,000 teachers (500-600 are hired by its five largest districts), while Alaska’s teacher preparation programs graduate only around 200. The costs associated with teacher turnover in Alaska are considerable, but have never been systematically calculated,1 and this study emerged from interests among Alaska education researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders to better understand these costs. Using data collected from administrators in 37 of Alaska’s 54 districts, we describe teacher turnover and the costs associated with it in four key categories: separation, recruitment, hiring, and induction and training. Our calculations find that the total average cost of teacher turnover is $20,431.08 per teacher. Extrapolating this to Alaska’s 2008-2012 turnover data, this constitutes a cost to school districts of approximately $20 million per year. We focused on costs to Alaskan school districts, rather than costs to individual communities, schools, or the state. Our calculation is a conservative estimate, and reflects typical teacher turnover circumstances - retirement, leaving the profession, or moving to a new school district. We did not include unusual circumstances, such as mid-year departures or terminations. Our cost estimate includes costs of separation, recruitment, hiring, and orientation and training, and excludes the significant costs of teacher productivity and teacher preparation. We suggest that not all turnover is bad, nor are all turnover costs; and emphasize the need to focus on teacher retention as a goal, rather than reducing turnover costs. Even with conservative estimates, teacher turnover is a significant strain on districts’ personnel and resources, and in an era of shrinking budgets, teacher turnover diverts resources from teaching and learning to administrative processes of filling teacher vacancies. Our recommendations include: • Better track teacher turnover costs • Explore how to reduce teacher turnover costs • Support ongoing research around teacher turnover and its associated costs • Explore conditions driving high teacher turnover, and how to address them
    • Effect of Alaska Fiscal Options On Children and Families

      Berman, Matthew; Reamey, Random (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-02-01)
      Alaska’s state government faces an unprecedented challenge, with the need to close an estimated $3 billion gap between projected revenues and expenditures in fiscal year 2017. Total unrestricted state General Fund revenue in fiscal year 2016 (the 12 months ending June 30, 2016) was $1.3 billion, or about $1,800 per resident. That was barely more than the state dispenses annually to Alaska school districts, to support public education (Alaska Office of Management and Budget, Enacted Fiscal Summary). Despite low oil prices and declining production, petroleum revenues still accounted for 72 percent of these funds (Alaska Revenue Sources Book, Fall 2016, Alaska Department of Revenue, Tax Division). Alaska is the only state that does not have either state income or sales taxes. It is clear that Alaskans will soon have to accept some form of broad-based revenue measure to enable continued funding of basic public services. A 2016 analysis by ISER researchers discussed the potential effects on Alaska’s economy and households of various options to reduce expenditures and increase revenues.1 That study examined how the effects of revenue measures varied for Alaska households with different levels of income. These same revenue measures and expenditure cuts are also likely to have a much bigger effect on some households than others, depending on the presence and number of children in the family. This study extends the previous analysis by specifically examining how different options would be likely to affect families and children. Many large expenditures in the state budget can easily be identified as specifically benefiting children. These include state-funded programs such as the Alaska Public School Foundation program and the Division of Juvenile Justice and Office of Children’s Services, for example, as well as joint federal-state programs such as Medicaid and Denali Kidcare. Less obvious are the effects on children of potential measures to fund these and other state expenditures. This study focuses on describing and quantifying the effects of alternative state revenue options on Alaska families and children. In addition to considering how the revenue measures might affect families with children compared to households without children, we also consider how the burden of each measure might differ for rural and urban families.
    • What are the Implications of the Fiscal Options?

      Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-10-01)