COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - School districts across the country all face the same challenge -- teacher retention.
According to the Center for Educator Recruitment Retention and Advancement (CERRA), 689 first-year teachers left the classroom before the start of the 2018-19 school year.
CERRA also noted that the number of teachers in South Carolina who leave the classroom has grown every year since 2011-12. The numbers for this school year are expected to be released in January.
The Carolina Teacher Induction Program, also known as CarolinaTIP, is hoping to reverse this trend.
Tamara Turner, the Director of Personnel at District 5 of Lexington & Richland Counties is in charge of recruiting teachers and retaining them.
"That's definitely been one of the concerns for our district as well as a nationwide challenge," she said.
Her school district is one of the five that has teachers who participate in CarolinaTIP in the Midlands.
Dr. Thomas Hodges, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of South Carolina’s College of Education, said maintaining the teacher workforce has been an issue in the state for a while.
"It's like pouring water into a leaking bucket,” said Dr. Hodges. “If we simply try to recruit our way out of a teacher shortage, we're never going to address it until we figure out why the bucket is leaking."
That's why CarolinaTIP was created. The three-year program offers personalized emotional support, instructional coaching, leadership development, and incentives like a stipend. All of this is in addition to what induction programs school districts offer to new teachers. In the program's first year, all of their teachers returned to the classroom.
Dr. Cindy Van Buren, the Assistant Dean for Professional Partnerships at the College of Education, said the success of the program has been a pleasant surprise.
"You don't expect 100% retention rate but in year two we also had a 100% rate," she added.
Now in year three, CarolinaTIP officials said they have emerging evidence that shows teachers in the program also have improved classroom management skills. The teachers in the program are becoming quality teachers.
"The numbers are great,” Turner said. “The retention is great. But also knowing we have teachers who are truly taken care of and they feel valued - that's been the most significant reward for us."
CarolinaTIP also received The Riley Institute at Furman’s annual Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award at a celebration on November 12 in Columbia for their efforts.
While CarolinaTIP is focused on teachers, keeping them in the classroom does have a role in helping students succeed. Dr. Hodges said it usually takes a teacher about three years before they have a strong impact on a student's education. Having constant turnover at the teaching position could hurt a student's progress.
"Retaining teachers in the classroom goes a long way to improving student achievement," Dr. Hodges said.
Officials with the program said they hope to eventually expand the program to all UofSC College of Education grads across the state. They recently launched a pilot program in Berkeley County with the help of a community partner.
CarolinaTIP is funded internally by the College of Education and externally by its corporate partner, Colonial Life, with additional support through the Center for Educational Partnerships.