Breaking down the AUSL retention rate

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A couple of weeks ago, a reader cried foul when this blog cited a rather generous teacher retention statistic in an item about the rapid growth of AUSL’s portfolio of school turnarounds.

“AUSL programs require a one-year residency and four-year [teaching] commitment. … So, to have an 80 percent ‘stay rate’ in a five-year program that has only been going for seven years … not so impressive.”

I asked AUSL to provide a more detailed breakdown of where its graduates are working today.

 

A couple of weeks ago, a reader cried foul when this blog cited a rather generous teacher retention statistic in an item about the rapid growth of AUSL’s portfolio of school turnarounds.

“AUSL programs require a one-year residency and four-year [teaching] commitment. … So, to have an 80 percent ‘stay rate’ in a five-year program that has only been going for seven years … not so impressive.”

I asked AUSL to provide a more detailed breakdown of where its graduates are working today.

According to their figures, 243 teachers have graduated in the last six years from the residence program. Of those: 83 percent work in some capacity for the district; 80 percent are still CPS classroom teachers; and 89 percent are in education jobs.

But only 115 of the 243 teachers—about 47 percent—are still, as of this academic year, teaching at the schools where they were originally placed. By graduating class:

  Graduates Teaching in original school Teaching in another AUSL school
Class of 2003 31 5 5
Class of 2004 56 14 13
Class of 2005 34 13 3
Class of 2006 43 20 5
Class of 2007 35 19 4
Class of 2008 44 44 0

Of course, in AUSL’s view, some graduates who no longer work in their original teaching posts are among their most successful educators. For example, two graduates from 2003 are now principals at AUSL schools. Moreover, the organization has actively recruited several graduates to leave their original posts to join turnaround staff at another AUSL-managed school.

Residents take education classes at National Louis University or the University of Illinois at Chicago and enter a year-long, mentored teaching post at any of the six teacher training academies run by AUSL: Dodge, Tarkington, National Teachers Academy, Chicago Academy, Chicago Academy High and Collins Academy. More than a third of the program’s graduates still teach in one of these academies or one of the AUSL’s turnarounds: Sherman, Harvard, Morton, Howe and Orr High.

A big part of the private funding that AUSL receives helps underwrite its teacher residencies. Federal Title II grants, which the district releases directly to AUSL, also pay for about half the program.

President Barack Obama has openly complimented the AUSL residency program and given signals that funding will increase for such teacher training programs.

Some AUSL detractors oppose privatizing school services; others just question whether these programs are effective. The percentage of students who pass state tests is increasing faster than citywide averages at Harvard and Sherman turnarounds, but the district’s newest “value-added” measure shows mixed results at both campuses.

For its part, AUSL points to satisfied parents like Wanda Wilburn. She says her daughter’s reading has dramatically improved since AUSL took over Harvard elementary in 2008.

–John Myers