Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Duval Examines How It's Supporting And Training Teachers

Lindsey Kilbride

The top three factors new teachers say would contribute to them deciding to quit their jobs in Duval County Public Schools are pay, school culture and lack of support. That’s on par with how teachers are feeling across the country, according to the Education Week Research Center.

Thursday the School Board evaluated its work at keeping teachers in the district and providing them training. Duval hires about 1,300 teachers annually, and its attrition rate of 17 percent has remained constant over the past three years.

The school board has set retaining teachers as a top priority. One recent strategy was to expand the district’s professional development department.

The district is also providing principals and regional superintendents with attrition data about why their teachers are leaving, so they can do more to keep them.

“And if teachers say they’re not being supported, that’s immediately reported to regional superintendents,” a district staff member said.

Nationwide enrollment in teacher-preparation programs has been dropping over the last decade. Professionals who have bachelor’s degrees in areas other than education can teach while their getting their certification. But there’s been an increase in teachers failing their certification tests, according to district data.

Board Chair Paula Wright said she’s hopeful that’s turning around because the district is seeing big turnouts at its new preparation sessions for teacher certifications.

“The part I think was critical is seeing the improvement of teachers passing the general knowledge test through our support,” Wright said.

District staff also said new teachers are most likely to leave their jobs during summer break. In response, Duval experimented with with keeping in touch with them over those months and offered them $225 stipends to attend development sessions. Of the 259 who participated last summer, 92 percent are still teaching today.

Board member Becki Couch suggested members reach out to the business community for recruitment help, saying bringing teachers to Jacksonville will mean a better local economy.

“We have great beaches, we have great weather, low cost of living,” she said. “And I think that there’s ways that we can promote our city and make it a win for our downtown, because that’s usually the age group of people that are going to buy and move downtown.”

District staff say math, science and special needs are the hardest areas to staff.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.