Low pay-schmo pay! Teachers love working in South Dakota!
So contends Board of Regents chief Jack Warner in today's Sioux Falls paper. Compared to a national five-year new teacher attrition rate of 40% to 50%, almost three quarters of South Dakota Regental system graduates who go go to work in South Dakota's K-12 system stick with teaching for at least five years:
“That’s a very good news story for South Dakota,” said Jack Warner, executive director of the state Board of Regents. “It does demonstrate that teachers in South Dakota seem more essentially satisfied with the nature of their work than might occur in other places.”
Regents data found that 4,013 students completed a bachelor’s degree at one of the five public universities that offer education programs from fiscal years 2002 and 2010. Nine out of 10 of those graduates who went to work in a South Dakota school district returned to their district the following year. And after five years, 73.3 percent still were at those schools [Steve Young, "S.D. Does Better than Most States in Retaining Young Teachers," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.11.11].
Notice that that 73.3% retention is only among those teacher education graduates who choose to stay in South Dakota in the first place. The Regents' FY2013 Fact Book, from which the above placement data comes, notes that of 4,013 teacher education graduates from the Regental system from FY2002 to FY2010, 47.9% were placed in a South Dakota school district.
In other words, a majority of South Dakota's teacher education graduates, 52.1% choose to leave teaching or leave the state right away.
The FY2013 Fact Book notes that South Dakota natives have a better in-state teacher placement rate: 58.1%. But read that one the other way: even among the teacher education graduates who grow up in South Dakota and do university here, more than four in ten choose not to go to work in a South Dakota classroom.
So to claim that South Dakota does a better job of retaining new teachers perhaps misreads the Regents' data. That 73.3% stick-to-it-iveness resides in a self-selected group where a lot of rational actors have already sought better markets.