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How Early-Career Teachers Impact Tennessee Schools

Chalkbeat | Getty Images

Early-career teachers are those who are in their first two years of teaching. During the 2015-16 school year, nearly 1 in 5 Tennessee teachers fell into that category. Figures in some districts were even higher. Education website Chalkbeatsays, while there's strong evidence that educators improve with experience, many early-career teachers don't make it to a third year. That turnover can negatively impact students, particularly children of color.

Data from the Learning Policy Institute revealed that in schools with mostly students of color, almost half of teachers were inexperienced. That's compared to 8% of teachers in schools with few students of color. 

One longtime educator told the website that many teachers are of a difference race, cultural background, or economic status than the students they're serving making it hard to succeed in their roles. 

What's being done to fix the teacher retention problem? The state's largest teachers' organization, the Tennessee Education Association, is working with school districts statewide to encourage the development of mentorship programs for young educators. Alexis Singleton, who teaches in Memphis, credits such a program as having helped her "immensely" and she plans to stay involved long enough to shed her "inexperienced" label.

The data used in the Chalkbeat report was collected by local schools, reported to the U.S. Department of Education, and analyzed by nonprofit journalism center ProPublica.