SC Teacher Recruitment and Retention Concerns Continue

Rock Hill – The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA) has released its South Carolina Annual Educator Supply and Demand Report for the 2017-18 school year. As has been the trend in recent years, more public school teachers are leaving their positions, causing more vacancies and the need for more teachers to fill those vacancies. Approximately 6,700 teachers left their positions during or at the end of the 2016-17 school year. While more than one-quarter of these teachers reportedly went to teach in another SC public school district, about 4,900 teachers are no longer teaching in any SC public school.

Teachers leaving early in their careers is a challenge faced by many SC districts. Of the teachers who left during or at the end of the 2016-17 school year, excluding those who went to teach in another SC district, 35% had five or fewer years of experience and 12% had only one year or less of experience. A small improvement is revealed when these percentages are compared to those reported last year, which were 37% and 13%, respectively. One other notable finding relates to first-year teachers hired for the 2016-17 school year; 22% left their positions during or at the end of the 2016-17 school year and are no longer teaching in any SC public school district.

The study also concluded that districts are hiring fewer teachers from in-state teacher preparation programs. Since 2012-13, the number of hires coming from this particular source has declined by 25%. This trend can be explained by the multi-year decrease in SC students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree eligible for teacher certification. Because SC colleges and universities are not producing enough teachers to fill current vacancies, school districts are hiring more teachers from other states and countries and from alternative certification programs.

At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, districts reported 550 vacant teaching positions in SC public school classrooms. This number represents a 16% increase compared to vacancies reported at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. In addition to these vacancies are the 7,300 vacancies and new positions filled prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Of the 28 SC school districts eligible to participate in the state’s Rural Recruitment Initiative during the 2016-17 school year, FY17 Proviso 1A.64, fourteen districts reported improved retention rates. Now in its second full year of implementation, the Initiative can be expected to produce even more positive results as the participating school districts continue their focused recruitment and retention efforts.

The South Carolina Annual Educator Supply and Demand Report can be accessed on the CERRA website at https://www.cerra.org/supply-and-demand.html.