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Volume 21, Number 5
September/October 2005

Where High Turnover Meets Low Performance

New initiatives target the special problems of hard-to-staff schools


A year ago, Caroline County (Va.) schools had a lot of teachers to replace—again. The tiny, low-performing rural district north of Richmond needed to replace about 35 teachers in its four schools. The middle school alone had 19 vacancies, almost one-third of its 62 teachers. Interest in teaching at the school was minimal.

Some of those who left the district were new teachers who had struggled to meet the demands of the job. “Most of the time we could help make sure they’d make it through the year,” recalls superintendent Stanley Jones, “but they weren’t necessarily functioning. The tire was half flat.”

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

Illinois ACORN. “Here One Year, Gone the Next: Summarizing Teacher Turnover Data for 64 ACORN Neighborhood Schools.” Available online at

The New Teacher Center.

National Partnership for At-Risk Schools.

C.D. Prince. “Higher Pay in Hard-to-Staff Schools: The Case for Financial Incentives.” American Association of School Administrators, June 2002.

Southeast Center on Teaching Quality. “Recruiting Teachers for Hard-to-Staff Schools: Solutions for the Southeast and for the Nation.” January 2002.

Virginia Department of Education. “Teacher Retention and Support Program.”