Retaining Teacher Talent: The View from Generation Y (Report)


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Retaining Teacher Talent: The View from Generation Y (Report)

  1. 1. Retaining teacher talent: The View From Generation YA RetAining teAcheR tAlent report from learning Point Associates and Public Agenda
  2. 2. Retaining teacher talent:The View From Generation YJane G. Coggshall, Ph.D., Learning Point AssociatesAmber Ott, Public AgendaEllen Behrstock, Ph.D., Learning Point AssociatesMolly Lasagna, Learning Point Associates
  3. 3. Contents PageIntroduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1Finding 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Policy Recommendation 1a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Policy Recommendation 1b . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6Finding 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Policy Recommendation 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9Finding 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Policy Recommendation 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12Finding 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Policy Recommendation 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14Finding 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Policy Recommendation 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16Finding 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Policy Recommendation 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20AcknowledgmentsThe authors would like to thank the other members of the Retaining Teaching Talent projectteam including Jean Johnson and Jonathan Rochkind at Public Agenda as well as Sabrina Laineand Mary Nistler at Learning Point Associates.This research and the resulting products would not have been possible without the generoussupport from The Joyce Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, including regularguidance and advice from John Luczak and Lynn Olson, respectively.Finally, Brad Jupp, senior advisor to Secretary Duncan, provided invaluable feedback ina remarkably short time frame, and we are forever indebted to the wise counsel providedby the Retaining Teaching Talent Expert Panel during the course of this project.
  4. 4. IntroductionMembers of Generation Y (those born report describes some of the most tellingbetween 1977 and 1995) have been findings from this work.characterized as creative, innovative, self-confident, highly educated, and educationally The Retaining Teacher Talent study was anminded.1 They like to share what they’ve exploratory mixed-method research project.learned in small groups and are dissatisfied We conducted eight focus-group interviewswith workplaces that are technologically across the country using hypotheticalinferior. They have a strong moral drive scenarios to provide a context-rich pointto make a difference in society. Because of departure for the group discussionsmembers of Gen Y are accustomed to positive (although this report does not include datareinforcement, they desire constant feedback from the final two focus groups). Basedand want to be rewarded when they do things on initial findings from the first six focuswell. They prefer to “text” with their thumbs groups, we designed a teacher survey to paintrather than with their pointer finger, and they a national picture of Gen Y teachers. Thedo not see any career as a lifelong pursuit. observations in this report are based on a national, random-sample survey of 890Little empirical evidence to support these public school teachers conducted in springclaims exists, yet considering how critical and summer 2009; the survey included anthis generation is to the workforce in general over-sample of 241 teachers aged 32 andand to the teaching profession in particular— under and those first six focus groups.4Gen Y teachers currently make up more than18 percent of the teaching force, doubling in Two overarching themes were uncovered inproportion in just the last four years2 —keen this analysis of teachers’ views on emergingattention must be paid to Gen Y teachers’ policy and practice strategies intended toneeds and preferences to ensure that the most inform the successful management andeffective Gen Y teachers continue to teach for retention of the most talented teachers:more than just a few years. Retaining Gen Y • Teachers’ views on the “hard factors”teachers is a concern because in 2004–05, of their employment are evolving,turnover among public school teachers under particularly in terms of how theyage 30 was 44 percent higher than the average wish to be compensated.teacher turnover rate (which includes retirees).3The loss that this teacher attrition and • Teachers’ views on the “soft factors”mobility represents in terms of human and of their employment are influencedfinancial capital is staggering (see Barnes, by their generation and experiences.Crowe, & Schaefer, 2007; Milanowski &Odden, 2007). To gain a better understanding However, in both cases, there is strongof why this may be occurring and what evidence of a confluence and constancyhuman resources practices may stem the loss, of teacher views that span the generations.researchers from Learning Point Associates The six key findings in this report indicateand Public Agenda partnered together with that supporting teacher effectiveness will havethe support of The Joyce Foundation and the a profound impact on teacher retention forBill & Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct Gen Y teachers as well as their colleagues.the Retaining Teacher Talent study. This1 See Behrstock and Clifford (2009) for a review.2 Coopersmith and Gruber (2009) analyzed the 2007–08 national Schools and Staffing Survey data set and found that 18 percent of public schoolteachers are under the age of 30. In 2003–04, Gen Y teachers made up roughly 9 percent of the workforce (internal Learning Point Associates analysis).3 According to Marvel et al. (2007), between the 2003–04 and 2004–05 school years, the total percent leavers + movers for all teachers = 16.5percent. For teachers under 30, this figure is 23.7 percent (which is 44 percent higher than the average). These data underestimate total turnover,as they do not capture the teachers who left before the survey was administered.4 A description of the methodology can be found at the View From generation Y 1
  5. 5. Finding 1: gen Y teachers are more open to rewarding teachers differentially for their performance and responsibilities in the classroom than earlier generations; however, they are skeptical about using their students’ standardized test scores to measure such performance. In the late 1960s, a sociologist named Figure 1. Ranking of Different Options for Differential Pay Dan Lortie conducted an in-depth study of teachers in 13 schools in New England. He Percent who “strongly” or “somewhat” favor giving financial was interested in the economics of teaching— incentives to teachers who: wherein teachers’ salaries were (then as now) 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% differentiated based only on seniority and Consistently work harder, 71% education level and the most experienced and putting in more time and 63% educated were paid only about twice that of effort than other teachers the least—and what this meant for the work Receive certification from the 70% of school teachers. He claimed that the reason National Board for Professional 58% behind this tradition was in part because Teaching Standards teachers remained “consistently egalitarian,” Teach classes with 69% resisting further differentiation in salary, in hard-to-reach students* 68% part because the “service ideal [of teaching] extolled the virtue of giving more than Work in tough neighborhoods 68% one receives; the model teacher has been with low-performing schools* 73% ‘dedicated’” (Lortie, 1975, p. 102). Teachers considered individual ambition for greater Consistently receive excellent 61% rewards, whether based on merit or other evaluations by their principals 52% factors, to be suspect. Gen Y Older teachers With the influx of this new generation of teachers, there are modest signs that this * These differences are not statistically significant. egalitarian approach is beginning to change. Teachers are becoming more comfortable making distinctions among their number. during the focus groups. For example, As Figure 1 demonstrates, more teachers a Gen Y elementary teacher from North of all generations support some type of Carolina who is National Board certified said, differentiated pay, with Gen Y teachers “It would be nice to be recognized for those somewhat more supportive of all types of people who go above and beyond. Why am pay differentiation than older teachers (with I going to give so much, when so-and-so can the exception of paying teachers more for get away with doing nothing at all, and I’m working in tough neighborhoods with low- still getting paid the same or less because performing schools). I’m younger, or whatever it is?” One of her middle school colleagues also stated, “I think Gen Y teachers in particular are overwhelmingly a teacher who just comes in and teaches their supportive of giving financial incentives to class and leaves is a lot different from the teachers who consistently work harder and person who is the school improvement chair put in more time and effort than other and runs this many clubs. For your hard teachers. This sentiment emerged clearly work, you should be rewarded.”2 Retaining teacher talent
  6. 6. Differentiating financial rewards based on Figure 2. Performance Pay as a Way to Improveperformance was problematic for the teachers Teacher Effectivenessin Lortie’s study because of the uncertaintyof teaching, and the external definitions of Percent who say tying teacher rewards to their students’performance in terms of the most valued performance would be effective in terms of improving teaching:instructional and relational outcomes were 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%untrustworthy (Lortie, 1975). Almost 40years later, Gen Y teachers are showing signs Gen Y 10% 39%that the teaching workforce may be becomingmore open to differentiating pay based on theperformance of their students. As Figures 2 Gen X* 9% 23%and 3 indicate, Gen Y teachers seem to bemore supportive than older teachers of theidea of differentiating pay based on how Boomers* 7% 20%well their students perform, with moreGen Y teachers saying they believe tying Very effective Somewhat effectiverewards to student performance would bea “very” or “somewhat” effective way of * Gen X teachers are defined as those teachers between the ages of 33 and 44. Baby Boomers are those teachers aged 45 to 63.improving teaching.One Gen Y teacher who had the experience ofreceiving a bonus in Illinois said the following: Figure 3. Fairness of Performance PayIt’s exciting to say, “I’ve worked this hard Which comes closer to your view even if neither is exactly right?and in addition to working so hard, andseeing my kids make gains and do well, we 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%get a bonus.” It came around Christmastime.It was excellent. Honestly, the bonus is Teachers can make a 28%exciting. I wouldn’t say that I work harder difference in what kids learn 22%because of the bonus. I think I work hard and they should be financially rewarded when they succeed.because I want to see my kids do well, but 19%the bonus is exactly what it is.This supports research from the corporate Its not fair to attach teacher 72%sector that indicated that Gen Y workers pay to what kids learn when so many things that affectin general value being recognized for 74% student learning arehigh-quality work (NAS Recruitment beyond their control. 80%Communications, 2006).Nevertheless, although members of Gen Y Gen Y Gen X Boomersseem to be less resistant to performance paythan their older colleagues, seven in 10 Gen Yteachers believe it is not fair to attach pay to the View From generation Y 3
  7. 7. what students learn when so many factors In the focus groups, some Gen Y teachers that affect student learning are beyond expressed their doubt for the ability of test their control. Thus, although it is theoretically scores to reflect their effectiveness as a teacher. possible to design measurements of teacher One elementary teacher from the District of effectiveness that take into account nonteacher Columbia, who was supportive of individual influences on student learning, as in value- performance bonuses, said, “I don’t like added models, many teachers will need to be basing anything just on test scores. I just convinced that these are valid, reliable, and think it’s just luck of the draw, and it [just fair before they would be more open to basing represents students’ performance on] one day, performance measures on standardized test too.” Others thought that teachers would go scores, even if they do control for outside so far as to cheat or at least teach to the test, factors that affect student growth over time. as this California focus group participant said, In the survey, we did not differentiate between “Really, with ‘no child left untested,’ all of us snapshot achievement scores versus value- have kind of started teaching a little bit more added scores. In the focus groups, we spoke to the test. …[L]earning stops when you teach only of “gains” in student achievement but to a test because it becomes how much can I not specifically about value-added measures. cram into their head, not how much are they understanding.” Other Gen Y teachers cited Contrary to what many educator compensation concerns such as not having enough time with reformers may hope, Gen Y teachers are their students to make an impact, especially in skeptical about the ability of standardized tests places with high student mobility; the stress to fairly assess their performance. Generation testing causes new teachers; and the difficulty Xers and Baby Boomers are actually slightly in making valid comparisons between teachers more comfortable basing financial incentives teaching special needs students when such on their students’ standardized test scores than students have different learning needs. their younger counterparts. Furthermore, as shown in Figure 4, 63 percent of Boomers as Figure 4. Performance Pay opposed to 50 percent of Gen Yers thought Based on Standardized Tests that student performance on district 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% standardized tests was an excellent or good indicator of their success as teachers. Favor giving financial incentives 40% or merit pay to teachers whose Interestingly, all but approximately students routinely score higher 52% than similar students on 2 percent of teachers said that their students’ standardized tests. 44% standardized subject matter test scores increased either “a lot” or “somewhat” as a result of their instruction, though Gen Y 50% Say their students’ performance teachers were somewhat more circumspect, on your districts standardized with only 38 percent saying that they rose a tests is an excellent or good 48% measure for indicating their lot compared to 44 percent of Baby Boomers. success as a teacher. 63% This perspective may explain some of the hesitancy of Gen Y teachers. Gen Y Gen X Boomers4 Retaining teacher talent
  8. 8. As Figure 5 indicates, Gen Y teachers also teachers agreed or strongly agreed thatare concerned with other consequences of compared with the previous year, teachersimplementing individual performance bonuses seemed “more competitive than cooperative,”no matter how “performance” was measured. and 81 percent even said that teachers now feltIn particular, they were concerned that it “more responsible to help each other do theirwould result in competition among their best” (Springer et al., 2009).colleagues and that it might give the principalan opportunity to reward teachers unfairly Finally, as more evidence that the(though Boomers were more concerned with egalitarianism among teachers has a strongthis possibility). The fear that individual hold, all teachers seem to be more supportivebonuses might lead to competition among of schoolwide performance-based bonuses, incolleagues suggests that egalitarian norms which everyone gains, rather than individualamong teachers remain strong. bonuses, with more than half of teachers saying that they either strongly or somewhatFigure 5. Percent Who Say That If Performance- favor such an approach (see Figure 6).Based Compensation Was Implemented inTheir School Figure 6. School-Based Performance Rewards Percent who favor performance-based compensation to all the 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% teachers in a school if the students routinely score higher than Instead of cooperation,there would be unhealthy 65% similar students on standardized tests:competition and jealousy 74% among teachers. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Teachers would be Gen Y 20% 36%motivated to work harder 35% and nd ways to be more effective. 23% Older teachers 21% 35% Principals would play favorites and reward 54% teachers who are loyal to them or who dont 62% Somewhat favor Strongly favor rock the boat. It would give 46% As earlier reformers have realized, sometimes principals a way to painfully, policymakers and others face a reward teachers who 33% really help kids learn. dilemma when they attempt to implement policy that does not have support among those it most directly affects. Thus, listening Gen Y Older teachers carefully to teachers’ voices on compensation reform is recommended. Based on this firstSome of these fears may be unfounded. finding from this study, policymakers whoAnalyses of teachers’ perceptions after intend to successfully implement a differentiatedthe implementation of certain pay-for- compensation model might consider theperformance plans show that few teachers following policy less cooperation (Solomon, White,Dohen, & Woo, 2003; Springer et al., 2009). “If you want teachers to teach, and really it takes a few years to become an effective teacher—it tookAn evaluation of the Texas Educator Excellence me five to really be a good teacher—you want toGrant program, for example, which provided reward that staying power, that consistency.”individual bonuses based primarily on testscores, showed that only 18.5 percent of —High School Teacher, California the View From generation Y 5
  9. 9. Policy Recommendation 1a: general, 65 percent to 75 percent agreement When developing an alternative is required among teachers, depending on the compensation plan, local policymakers union stipulations in the particular district.6 should implement and communicate This vote is essential to achieving and a transparent approach that clearly maintaining stakeholder buy-in and is identifies the rationale and methodology a way to promote information sharing used to distribute performance-based between administrators and staff. incentives—especially when including student outcomes as one measure. Policy Recommendation 1b: Most teachers of all generations will have When designing policy based on an difficulty trusting an evaluation system that alternative compensation system for is based solely on students’ standardized test teachers, local policymakers should be scores or, indeed, any system that unfairly aware that those affected will be more differentiates between teachers. The first step likely to support a schoolwide bonus toward developing a transparent and valid model than one that is based on evaluation system is to incorporate multiple individual awards. measures that meaningfully account for the factors that are beyond a teacher’s control. Schoolwide incentives are more immediately For example, at the Vaughn Next Century agreeable to teachers than individual rewards, Learning Center in San Fernando, California, in part because of the egalitarian traditions of school officials have implemented the Peer teachers. Thus, compensation reformers will Assistance and Review System, a teacher face less resistance to schoolwide incentives compensation program that uses three sets and may want to develop a hybrid model that of reviews, each based on a four-point scale.5 incorporates both individual and schoolwide All three reviews take place three times per performance measures. year, and program administrators then average the scores of all of the evaluations For example, during the 1999–2000 school to determine the level of compensation year, the Colonial School District in suburban for a teacher. Philadelphia implemented a mandatory performance-based pay system for all of its Once the evaluation measures and approach classroom teachers as well as some groups of have been developed in collaboration with nonteaching staff (LaFee, 2000). The district key local stakeholder groups, district leaders hired a consultant to identify appropriate should focus their efforts on building criteria and alternative sources of input to understanding and awareness of the new judge individual teacher performance and system. Schools that intend to implement the developed a separate evaluation system to Teacher Advancement Program, for instance, assess the performance of teacher groups are required by their local union affiliates by grade level, team, and department at the and the National Institute for Excellence elementary, middle, and high school levels. in Teaching to administer a faculty vote; in 5 For more information, see: 6 For more information, see: Retaining teacher talent
  10. 10. Finding 2: Paying for performance is seen as the least important policy optionfor improving teacher effectiveness and retention; having meaningful learningopportunities, reducing class size, increasing parental involvement, andraising salaries across the board still rank higher.The Retaining Teacher Talent survey asked The other options listed in Figure 7 areteachers to provide their assessment of 12 similar to the kinds of practices that aredifferent policy options that covered a wide regularly used in the corporate sector.range of proposed strategies to improve Wellins and Schweyer (n.d.) found thatteaching. Although teachers—and Gen Y talent-management practices related toteachers in particular—do seem to be professional development and workingopening up to the idea of basing pay on conditions were viewed as most effectivestudent performance, it still is the least among the human resources personnelpopular of policy options to increase the surveyed (pp. 8–9). Specifically, 89 percenteffectiveness of teachers among teachers believed the main influences on employeethemselves. Although some reformers argue motivation to perform well at their jobs werethat changing the way teachers are paid will opportunities for training and development,drive other reforms of teaching conditions whereas 83 percent believed constantas schools and districts change how they learning opportunities were key drivers.operate (Slotnik, 2009), teachers do not seem Recognition for accomplishments also wasto believe this to be the case. As shown in considered important by 77 percent ofFigure 7, only 10 percent of Gen Y teachers respondents. Other top responses includedand 8 percent of older teachers thought that high performance expectations (76 percent),“tying teacher rewards to their students’ high degree of autonomy and independenceperformance” is a “very effective” way to (75 percent), and relationships with coworkersimprove teaching. Interestingly, the overall (72 percent). Salaries were lower down onrankings of all options are strikingly similar the list, believed important by only 45for teachers of all generations. percent of respondents. Salt (2007) found that strategies such as providing merit payAs in an earlier study of first-year teachers and providing voluntary professional(Rochkind, Ott, Immerwahr, Doble, & learning opportunities and job rotation intoJohnson, 2008), there is clear evidence that other departments were considered the mostyoung teachers desire more opportunities to effective practices for developing Gen Ylearn to differentiate their instruction to meet workers (not specifically teachers).the needs of a diverse classroom and thatthis desire may be closely related to teachers’ Teachers of all generations tend to see teachingconsistent desire for smaller class sizes. As conditions as more important than salary, allthis high school teacher from Colorado said, other factors being equal. Mirroring findings“I have 37 kids in my class, and so how do from earlier studies (Farkas, Johnson, &you find time for all those conferences, and Foleno, 2000; Hirsch & Emerick, 2007;how do you really individualize instruction Rochkind, Immawahr, Ott, & Johnson,the way you want to make sure that each kid 2006), teachers consistently prefer schoolsis learning the things that they need to learn, that provide professional support to schoolswhich are totally different?” that pay a higher salary (see Figure 8). the View From generation Y 7
  11. 11. Figure 7. Ranking of Different Ideas for Improving Figure 8. Given a Choice Between Two Schools in Otherwise Teacher Effectiveness Identical Districts, Which Would You Prefer to Work in? Percent who say the following proposals would be “very effective” in terms of improving teaching: 15% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Preparing teachers to adapt or vary their instruction 65% to meet the needs of a 61% diverse classroom Reducing class size by 63% approximately five students 67% 84% Ensuring that students who are severe discipline 56% problems are removed from 70% the classroom Ensuring that the latest The school where student behavior and parental support technology is available in 52% were signi cantly higher each classroom to aid 55% instruction The school that paid a signi cantly higher salary Improving professional 50% development opportunities for teachers 52% Increasing teacher salaries to levels similar to other 47% professional jobs such as 50% 22% lawyers and doctors Making it easier to terminate 30% ineffective teachers 35% Requiring new teachers to spend more time teaching 25% under the supervision of 77% 38% experienced teachers Making sure that students in 23% the classroom have roughly the same academic abilities 16% The school where administrators give strong backing and support to teachers 12% Eliminating teacher tenure The school that paid a signi cantly higher salary 7% Requiring teachers to pass tough tests of their 10% knowledge of the subjects 16% they are teaching 10% Tying teacher rewards to their students’ performance 8% Gen Y Older teachers8 Retaining teacher talent
  12. 12. This finding could be evidence that the Figure 9. Drawbacks of Teaching“service ideal” continues to reign amongteachers; they would prefer to work in places From this list, what is the most difficult thing about beingin which they are effective with their students a teacher?and the students benefit from their effort than 0% 10% 20% 30% 40%in places where they make personal gain. One 27%focus group teacher from Wisconsin discussed Unreasonable pressure toher experience with transferring to another raise student achievement* 33%district that paid less than the district in which Lack of effort 23%she taught previously. She didn’t realize why from students* 25%the teachers at her new district didn’t mindthe lower pay. “Then, after a couple years, I Low pay and lack of 19%kind of realized because things were really opportunity for advancement 6%good and so people were okay with that. Theywere supported by the community. They were 18% Lack of supportsupported by the administration. They could from parents* 23%do things, allowed freedom.” Lack of support 12% “The planning time that they allot is ridiculous. from administrators* 11%I get 46 minutes a day because the other 46 isdevoted toward meetings. So 46 minutes a dayto grade, plan, print, copy, walk up and down the Gen Y Older Teachershalls to and from the office—there’s no way thatyou could do what you need to do.” * These differences are not statistically significant. —Elementary Teacher, Washington, D.C.Moreover, most teachers do not consider Policy Recommendation 2:“low pay and lack of opportunity for given stagnant and declining state andadvancement” as the chief drawback of the local funding for education, state andprofession, although Gen Y teachers are local policymakers may want to considersubstantially more likely to be concerned targeting scarce resources towardabout these factors than older teachers. improving school working conditionsApproximately one fifth of Gen Y teachers with the intention of retaining high-(19 percent) selected low pay as “the most performing teachers.difficult thing about being a teacher” Despite prompting teachers in focus groups(see Figure 9). and our survey multiple times, it is clear that there were no generational differences when itThe overwhelming popularity of policy options comes to the relative importance of teacherthat improve teaching conditions points to the pay over many aspects of teachers’ workingfact that teachers desire workplaces in which conditions. New pay structures that givethey are given more social and technical consideration to performance awards orresources to be effective. Improving the way innovative pension models are not at the topand the amount teachers are paid will likely of teachers’ lists when it comes to retentionserve to promote retention and the equitable strategies. As such, policymakers shoulddistribution of teachers, but deploying as many consider focusing reforms on a variety ofresources as possible to improve effectiveness school-level working conditions, such asmay be just as powerful if not more so. the View From generation Y 9
  13. 13. providing more structured common planning transferred $40,000 out of her textbook and learning time; developing and committing budget to purchase SMART Boards, ELMO to a strong, schoolwide behavior-management projectors, and other pieces of cutting-edge system; or investing in the latest instructional education technology. As a result, the retention technology. rate of her teachers has soared; last year, 25 percent of teachers could have retired but For example, at Broad Creek Middle School chose to stay on and continue working for her.7 in North Carolina, Principal Cathy Tomon Finding 3: Many teachers view removing ineffective colleagues from the classroom as a way to boost teacher effectiveness and think that unions sometimes protect ineffective teachers, yet they feel it important to preserve tenure protections. Frustration with ineffective colleagues is a that they know of a few teachers who are common phenomenon in any workplace, but underperforming, with 31 percent of Gen Y in schools, where the stakes are high and the teachers and 20 percent of older teachers classroom walls thin and where ineffectiveness saying they work with “more than a few” or is rarely formally punished or remediated, it even “quite a large number” of such teachers. becomes that much more palpable. As one Gen Y focus group participant from North Moreover, according to Figure 11, both Gen Y Carolina said, “I feel like, unfortunately, in and older teachers agree that making it easier some schools, teachers do need to be fired. In to remove ineffective teachers would be either some schools, there are teachers that shouldn’t “somewhat effective” or “very effective” in be there. They’re not there for the children.” improving teaching. Recent research has It seems that many teachers, not just Gen Y shown that there is a “spillover effect” among teachers, agree with her. As shown in teachers—that when a new, more effective Figure 10, large percentages of teachers say teacher is hired, the effectiveness of all Figure 10. Prevalence of Ineffective Teachers Figure 11. Terminating Ineffective Teachers This year, about how many teachers in your building do you Percent of teachers who say that making it easier to think fail to do a good job and are simply going through terminate ineffective teachers would be an effective way the motions? to improve teaching: 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Gen Y 15% 54% 28% 3% Gen Y 30% 49% Older teachers 19% 60% 16% 4% Older teachers 35% 41% None A few Very Somewhat More than a few Quite a large number 7 Tomon, C. (September 1, 2009). Principal of Broad Creek Middle School. Personal communication.10 Retaining teacher talent
  14. 14. teachers, as measured by value-added test Nevertheless, as noted in Figure 13, thescores, increases (Jackson & Bruegmann, surveyed teachers do not perceive that2009). The findings from the current survey eliminating teacher tenure would be anperhaps suggest that teachers perceive a effective way to improve teaching, thoughspillover effect in the opposite direction: Gen Y teachers are slightly less sanguine.teachers with ineffective colleagues have a Focus group participants did not place amore difficult time teaching themselves and great deal of value on tenure, some sayingmiss the opportunity to learn from more they either did not know why they had it oreffective colleagues. how they could get it. Nevertheless, several expressed strong opinions about tenure as itIn addition, the survey found that there is is currently practiced. As a middle schoolrising concern among teachers that unions too teacher in Colorado stated, “I think if you’reoften protect ineffective teachers, doubling the not good at something, you shouldn’t benumber of those strongly agreeing with that guaranteed to have a job in it. I think itconcern between 2003 and today (see Figure makes the rest of us look bad. It’s nice12). And although unions do not set tenure to have support, and I think it would bepolicy (such policy is implemented by each important to have a series of legitimatestate), Gen Y teachers perceive unions as complaints or issues over a period of timeentities that protect tenured teachers more before you’re let go, but I don’t think tenure’sthan untenured. As one teacher from North a good idea.” Another high school teacherCarolina stated, “So that’s one drawback of from North Carolina talked about thethe union is that people, kind of like with attitude that some tenured teachers have:tenure, we were talking about people getting “I’ve got tenure; I can do whatever I wantaway with not doing as much, a union allows to. I can slack off, I can leave early, I cannotthat to happen in some respects.” go to this meeting, I can do whatever I want to, and you can’t touch me.”“I’ve never needed the union but when I do…,if I ever do need them, it’s really nice to know that Focus group teachers saw tenure as a nuancedthey’re there.” issue, however. One teacher from Wisconsin —Elementary Teacher, Wisconsin asserted that administrators can do more toFigure 12. Union Protection Figure 13. Removing Tenure as a Means toof Ineffective Teachers Improve TeachingPercent who agree that the union sometimes fights to protect Percent of teachers who say that eliminating teacher tenureteachers who really should be out of the classroom: would be an effective way to improve teaching: 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 2009 22% 44% Gen Y 12% 27% 2003* 11% 37% Older teachers 7% 26% Strongly agree Somewhat agree Very SomewhatSource: Public Agenda (2003) Note: These differences are not statistically significant. the View From generation Y 11
  15. 15. work with ineffective teachers before firing Policy Recommendation 3: them, saying, “I’ve seen pressure put on School leaders should be supported ineffective teachers, and I’ve seen it work.” to make tenure decisions a more Other surveys have shown that many teachers meaningful stop along the educator are concerned about ineffective teachers career continuum. local policymakers, staying on the job. In Public Agenda’s 2006 with teacher input, should design and survey of public school teachers, more than implement an evaluation system that four in 10 gave their principals fair (30 will provide tenure only after teachers percent) or poor (12 percent) ratings for demonstrate their effectiveness making sure the “worst teachers” don’t stay in the classroom. at the school (Johnson, Arumi, & Ott, 2006). Many teachers interviewed and surveyed Another teacher from Wisconsin had yet a for this study expressed skepticism with the different take: current tenure systems in their respective [W]e all like to say well, if [teaching is] a school districts. Too often, tenure is seen as profession, then like every other profession, a meaningless reward; teachers “earn” tenure if you don’t toe the line, you get fired. Well, merely by putting in their time. Moreover, in education it’s different, because if you get teachers’ tenure chances are dependent on fired, there are—in high school—you have the idiosyncrasies of their principal—strong 120 plus kids who now don’t have a teacher principals will be much more selective about for that subject, and it affects all of their lives awarding tenure; other principals, especially and educations.… If you get fired in another those who face great recruitment challenges, job, they put up a job posting. Your desk is will not be as selective. As such, many empty. When they get that new person, they ineffective teachers are granted job security put them in; life goes on. In schools, all these and increased pay for no reason other than kids are stuck in limbo for the rest of the year. time on the job. Gen Y teachers are more You’re not going to find a teacher just bam, skeptical of tenure, perhaps because they hire them like that. It doesn’t work like that, are in the early stages of their careers, and you know? perhaps as a result of the fact that, from their perspective, there are many tenured faculty This set of findings suggests that teachers feel members in their schools who are no more the impact of their colleagues on the quality effective than they are. and effectiveness of their own teaching, and Gen Y teachers, many of whom are In Minneapolis, school district officials still learning the best ways to be effective, worked together with the heads of the local especially desire to work with teachers from union chapter to create an “Achievement of whom both they and their students can learn. Tenure” system; gone are the days in which teachers earn tenure merely by showing up to work three years in a row.8 Instead, practitioners must accomplish the following tasks before they are eligible for tenure: • Know and understand all curriculum standards (both district and state level). • Be successfully evaluated by the principal. 8 Nordgren, L. (September 10, 2009). President, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. Personal communication.12 Retaining teacher talent
  16. 16. • Work with a teacher-mentor and an a recommendation by the tenure review team achievement tenure team closely for to rehire that individual. For those who do at least the first year of teaching. not immediately achieve this recommendation, there are generally two options:• Complete courses on nonverbal communication and peer coaching. • If that individual is “right on the line,” then the team might recommend that• Acquire a certain number of professional a mentor remain with that teacher for development hours in their respective fields. another year, with a reevaluation process• Conduct an action research project, at the end of that year. complete with professional portfolio, and • If a teacher’s body of work shows that he present findings to a tenure review team. or she is in the wrong locale, content area, or profession altogether, the team oftenA teacher’s successful completion of all will not recommend rehiring.components of tenure achievement results inFinding 4: gen Y teachers tend to desire sustained, constructive, andindividualized feedback from principals to help them become more effectivein the classroom.Best practices in private-sector talent overwhelmingly—70 percent—in favor ofmanagement frequently include offering the former (see Figure 14). Importantly, oldersubstantive and thoughtful feedback as a teachers also are largely in favor of having thestrategy. According to Lawler (2008), a principal offer frequent feedback (61 percent).critical factor in the successful recruitmentand hiring of high-quality employees is The desire to be mentored through observation“offering to provide [them] with feedback and constructive feedback also was expressed by the teachers interviewed in the focus groups.on their performance, in order to attract those In general, the teachers explained that theywho wish to learn and develop themselves, understand that there is work to be done towhile dissuading those who do not” (p. 11).More specifically, offering feedback to Gen Y Figure 14. Desire for Frequent Feedbackcandidates is particularly useful, as this is a From Principalworkplace condition that, on average, theyvalue highly. When NAS Recruitment Which comes closer to your view, even if neither is exactly right?Communications, a human resources firm, 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%released its seven strategies for retaining I prefer having a principalGen Y employees in 2006, feedback was who frequently observes my 70%a recurring theme. classroom and gives me detailed feedback on 61%Indeed, frequent observation and thorough how I am were found to be very important tothe Gen Y teachers surveyed for this study. I prefer having a principal who conducts formal observations 30%When given the choice between working of my teaching only once afor a principal who is a frequent visitor to year or so and gives me 38%their classrooms and a principal who only only general feedback.stops in once a year, Gen Y teachers were Gen Y Older teachers the View From generation Y 13
  17. 17. improve their practice and that they cannot available. “I love feedback,” exclaimed a high improve on their own. One elementary school school teacher from Washington, D.C. “It can teacher from Wisconsin said the following: be critical; it can be positive, whatever.” I would prefer my principal to walk in. In fact, he does all the time. He walks in and observes all of us. I have no problem with Policy Recommendation 4: my teaching and I would like people to come Design and implement a structured in and observe me because I want to hear system for frequent observations; commit constructive feedback. I want to know, what to participating in a genuine feedback am I doing, do you find this effective, what am loop with the observed teachers. I not doing? If you’re going to come in and In all professional fields, members of Gen Y evaluate me, make it meaningful for me and desire feedback. Gen Y professionals want my students. Don’t just come in and give to be respected through their superiors’ me a “satisfactory”—I appreciate [when] dedication to observe them and then principals actually take the time to care for meaningfully reflect on that observation. the child’s education and make sure that the They want to be effective and appreciate teachers in there are really doing their job. assistance in accomplishing that. And the teachers of this generation are no different. Teachers expressed a desire to be observed and Data from both focus groups and the critiqued to strengthen their own teaching and nationwide survey indicate that Gen Y keep them accountable for their professional educators are calling for a more structured decisions. Although some interviewees said system of observation and feedback so as that they were initially wary of having an to test instructional strategies and improve “open-door” classroom, they have ultimately practice. One important component of a come to appreciate it.A middle school teacher sustainable system of observation and from North Carolina said the following: feedback is the inclusion of peer review— The school that I’m at this year, there are a model successfully being used by teachers administrators in my classroom every single and administrators in Toledo, Ohio, day. The first couple weeks of school, I … was since 1981. scared, thought I was doing something wrong, but now they know me, they know how I am The Classroom Assessment Scoring System as a teacher, and I feel like I’ve earned their (CLASS), created by researchers at the respect. I also feel like it’s helped to make me University of Virginia, is a structured system a better teacher, because I’m always on my of classroom observation that has been shown toes and I know anytime somebody can walk to correlate with student achievement. CLASS in. I want to make sure that I’m doing a good is a performance-management system that job and what I’m supposed to. uses in-class and video observations to evaluate teacher-student interactions (Pianta, Because of their interest in collaboration and La Paro, & Hamre, 2007). The CLASS cycle professional learning, Gen Y educators solicit involves practitioners videotaping their feedback from their supervisors and mentors instruction, sending it for a targeted review, more frequently than their older colleagues. and receiving thoughtful and pointed In general, those who participated in the feedback. CLASS is currently being focus groups were quick to point out that implemented in Virginia and is used by the comments do not necessarily have to be professional development providers positive or celebratory; they just need to be throughout the country.14 Retaining teacher talent
  18. 18. Finding 5: All teachers desire meaningful collaboration with their colleagues—not just younger ones.The literature on Gen Y workers in the Figure 15. Desire for Collaborationprivate sector suggests that opportunities With Colleaguesfor collaboration are extremely important If you were considering transferring to a different school in your for this new generation. Research indicates district, would you prefer a school:that Gen Y strongly values workingcollaboratively in teams (Shaffer, 2008, 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%p. 4) and, more generally, developing solid Where there is a lot of 68%relationships with their coworkers and, in collaboration among teachers and guidance from otherparticular, their immediate supervisor (NAS instructional experts in 67%Recruitment Communications, 2006; developing lesson planWellins & Schweyer, n.d.). With less collaboration but 26%Our findings reveal that, like other where teachers are freer toprofessionals, Gen Y teachers do want to design their own lessons 31%collaborate with colleagues. But this findingwas not unique to Gen Y; all teachersexpressed a desire for such collaboration. Gen Y Older teachersWhen asked whether they would prefer to Note: These differences are not statistically significant.teach in a school with a lot of collaborationamong teachers and guidance frominstructional experts or a school with less subject area as well as teachers from differentcollaboration but more freedom to design subject areas but similar situations. Anlessons independently, roughly two thirds elementary school teacher from Chicago saidof both Gen Y and non-Gen Y teachers the following:preferred the former (see Figure 15). I’ve been extremely lucky. Ever since the school has been founded, we have thingsAs with their interest in receiving regular like teacher talk, critical friends, where wefeedback, Gen Y teachers desire collaboration meet every week, and we either develop ourbecause they want to be as effective as curriculum or we see each other teaching andpossible and view collaboration as a learning help each other with what problems or howopportunity. An elementary school teacher to target students better and what things wefrom Washington, D.C., said the following: can apply to and improve ourselves in ourWe all can grow. No one has reached their school. That has been vital to our school.highest level. We can all be better teachers allthe time. The way to do that, I learn from so Collaboration was likewise seen by onemany other teachers. My teaching style is Gen Y teacher as a way to avoid stagnating,what I take from everyone I see and what or “getting stuck in my ways.” Althoughworks for me. improving instructional practice was seen as the primary benefit of teacher collaboration,Gen Y teachers mentioned various formats time spent on collaboration can, in fact, savefor collaboration that were helpful, including time, as mentioned by a high school teachercollaboration both with teachers in the same from Northern Virginia: the View From generation Y 15
  19. 19. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, so if you this study reacted favorably to a hypothetical want to refine something, we can go ask for school setting that involved teachers working advice. It saves a lot of time…we can finish in “cohort groups,” making comments such each other’s ideas and develop something that as, “I think the thing that really turned me works for the team, which is very helpful. off about [hypothetical school A] more than something that turned me on about Although 60 percent of workplaces experience [hypothetical school B] was the fact that it intergenerational tension (NAS Recruitment said that teachers do not collaborate. I think Communications, 2006), cross-generational that… the most important part of my day is collaboration can foster positive relationships the time that I have to collaborate with my that celebrate the unique contributions that fellow teachers, and how much I can learn teachers from different generational groups from them and copy things that work well can add to the school (Carroll, 2009). Gen Y for them.” In the survey data, this finding is teachers clearly have much to learn from their corroborated for teachers of all generations; older, more experienced colleagues about two thirds of teachers in each of the age being an effective instructor. At the same time, brackets would, if given the choice, move to these more experienced teachers may be able a school where collaboration is highly valued. to learn from Gen Y teachers, particularly about certain technologies that can aid For local policymakers, the most salient instruction or recent educational research from implications of this report involve school preparation programs that may still be fresh scheduling—creating common planning time, in their minds. In sum, ample opportunities either by grade level, student cohorts, or should be provided to make the most of this content area. In the Lynwood Unified School cross-generational eagerness to collaborate District in Southern California, for example, to improve teacher effectiveness and, in district officials have used Teacher Incentive turn, retention. Funds to launch the Quest for Success Program.9 Although the main goal of the program is to incentivize changes in Policy Recommendation 5: instructional practice that result in higher School and district leaders should ensure student performance, Quest for Success that collaborative activities are designed also is designed to foster collaboration to enhance the instructional practice of and collegiality by providing bonuses to all participants, which also will serve all teachers at a particular grade level when as a mechanism for creating cross- students within that grade meet important generational understanding and trust. benchmarks. The Gen Y teacher’s desire for feedback is reflective of a larger need expressed by this group of young educators to collaborate, working with their peers toward a common goal or mission. Focus group participants in 9 See Retaining teacher talent
  20. 20. Finding 6: Most gen Y teachers believe they will stay in education, if not theclassroom, for the long haul.In general, Gen Y is seen as less oriented toward 56 percent of Gen Y teachers planned tolong-term careers (National Commission on remain a classroom teacher for life (see FigureTeaching and America’s Future, 2007), and 17). One National Board certified elementaryyet Gen Y is also seen as a highly education- teacher from North Carolina who viewedminded group (Wong & Wong, 2007a, 2007b). classroom teaching as a lifelong career choiceOf those in this generation who have entered said, “I can’t imagine doing anything else andteaching, 98 percent plan to work in the liking it as much.”education field for life. This finding that more than half of Gen YTheir views toward remaining in the teachers (and three quarters of non-Gen Yclassroom, however, are more ambivalent. teachers) plan to teach for life is somewhatThe survey results shown in Figure 16 indicate surprising, though hopeful, in light of thethat 4 percent of Gen Y teachers planned to oft-cited statistic that roughly half of all newstay in the classroom for one more year or teachers nationwide leave within their firstso; 11 percent planned to stay for two to four five years in the classroom (Ingersoll, 2003).more years; 17 percent planned to stay for School leaders wishing to retain Gen Yfive to 10 more years; and the large majority, teachers have at least these teachers’ retention68 percent, plan to remain classroom intentions going for them.teachers for more than 10 years. Indeed,Figure 16. Intention to Stay in Teaching Figure 17. Intention to Stay in TeachingWhat is your best estimate for how many more years you think Do you think of teaching as a lifelong career choice, do you thinkyou’ll be a classroom teacher? you’ll probably leave the classroom for another job in education, or will you change fields altogether? 4% 11% 17% 42% 56% 68% 2% Next year or so 2 to 4 years Lifelong career choice 5 to 10 years More than 10 years Probably leave the classroom for another job in education Change elds altogether the View From generation Y 17
  21. 21. Of the teachers who planned to stay in Policy Recommendation 6: education but leave the classroom, their Work to design and implement a set of rationales were to seek new challenges and differentiated career options for teachers opportunities and to avoid boredom or to increase retention in and satisfaction burnout. An elementary school teacher with the field. from Colorado said the following: I just don’t think that I’ll always be a classroom The data collected for this study indicate that teacher, because I don’t know—I’ve been doing 98 percent of Gen Y teachers plan to stay in it five years, and I can already see it’s starting the field of education for the entire trajectory to wear on me to be quite honest. I just think of their careers. Yet, of that 98 percent, only sometimes people who are always classroom roughly half plan to actually remain in the teachers and never branch out to any other classroom for life. Teachers who do not plan parts of education…start to get a little wacky to remain in the classroom made statements after a while. such as, “I enjoy teaching, but I want to explore other facets of education.” Research Commonly cited opportunities in education suggests that many young teachers choose outside of the classroom included university to leave the profession not because they are teaching, school psychology or speech ineffective, but because they feel stifled. therapy, or academic advising. Taking on a Policymakers would be wise to begin school principalship was generally not an envisioning some alternative pathways expected career path for these teachers. Most within the field of teaching, pathways that of the teachers in the focus groups said they would provide intelligent, creative, dynamic would like to keep one foot in the classroom, Gen Y talent with the types of ongoing new yet have opportunities to take on additional challenges and opportunities that members roles, responsibilities, and challenges. School of Gen Y seek. leaders may want to think creatively about how to differentiate roles for teachers to This innovative approach to the educator provide these opportunities, make the most career continuum has been adopted by school of specialized skills, and keep teachers in districts and other stakeholder groups alike. the classroom for at least part of the day The approach taken by the Teach Plus (Coggshall, Lasagna, & Laine, 2009). program of the Massachusetts-based Rennie Teachers in Singapore, for example, have Center for Education Research and Policy is well-articulated career paths that allow those to promote teacher retention by increasing who demonstrate they have the required level the teachers’ voice in policymaking. By of expertise and skill to become coaches and facilitating collaboration between teachers master teachers (Sclafani & Lim, 2008). Such and policymakers, Rennie Center staff help to a system, coupled with myriad other human mobilize teacher advocacy for the profession, capital management strategies, has helped connecting teachers to innovative opportunities, Singapore to maintain a highly professional developing differentiated roles and pay systems, and effective teacher workforce. and providing relevant decisionmakers with high-quality research and technical assistance.10 10 See for more information.18 Retaining teacher talent
  22. 22. On the district side, officials in Fairfax now have the option to extend theirCounty, Virginia, recognized that some contracts an extra nine days, for roughlyteachers highly valued their long summer $3,700; 14 days, for roughly $5,400; orvacations, whereas other teachers were more 24 days, for roughly $10,000. The salaryeager to receive more competitive levels of increase includes pay and benefits. Thosecompensation. In 2005–06, they decided to with extended contracts are trained to servedifferentiate roles for their teachers while as teacher-leaders in their schools, workingintroducing new, creative opportunities to to facilitate collaborative teams, and,develop a culture of professional learning ultimately, to increase student andcommunities.11 Teachers in Fairfax County teacher learning.ConclusionThe findings presented in this report effectively. Performance pay may serve toconsistently indicate that to retain more motivate teachers more, or it may just be icingteachers of all generations, the most powerful on the cake, but it will be more acceptable tothing that policymakers and others can do is teachers if such reforms are accompanied byto support teachers’ ability to be effective with a comprehensive set of policies and practicestheir students. Teachers who can see that they that will support their teaching.are making a difference in their students’learning will stay in the profession longer. The data also indicate that there is much thatSupporting effectiveness means ensuring teachers of all generations have in commonthat all teachers are surrounded by effective and that egalitarian norms among teacherscolleagues, given time to collaborate with are still in effect. Growing numbers of Gen Ythese colleagues, offered constructive feedback teachers are slowly beginning to make theiron their teaching, and provided other rich mark on the profession.opportunities to learn to teach more11 Butz, L. (September 2, 2009). Cluster VI Assistant Superintendent in Fairfax County, Virginia. Personal communication. the View From generation Y 19
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  25. 25. 1120 East Diehl Road, Suite 200 6 East 39th Street Naperville, IL 60563-1486 New York, NY 10016-0112 800-356-2735 | 630-649-6500 212-686-6610 | Fax: 212-889-3461 www.publicagenda.orgCopyright © 2010 Learning Point Associates and Public Agenda 4070R_01/10