Houston District, Teachers Union See Teacher Retention Differently

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier
The Houston Independent School District released new numbers today to show its best teachers are staying in the classroom. But the Houston teachers union says the statistics are flawed.

It’s a rule of thumb in business or any organization: You want to keep your best people.

In the Houston Independent School District, Superintendent Terry Grier says it’s doing an excellent job at keeping the best teachers in the classroom.

“That’s a teacher who in one year period can get two or more years of academic growth out of their students, that’s highly effective.”

There are 13,000 teachers in Houston. Grier says about 10 percent — or 1,300 of them — are highly effective.

He says 88 percent of those highly effective teachers are staying in the district.

Grier credits that rate to giving bonus money to top teachers; more on-the-job training and support; and better relationships between teachers and their principals.

And Grier says it’s good news that some teachers are leaving the district.

He says more than 500 teachers have left the district in the last three years.

He says they weren’t good teachers.

“Teachers who are ineffective, whose kids on average are falling two or more years behind, there’s no place for them at HISD.”

But the president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, Gayle Fallon, says the report doesn’t show what’s really happening when it comes to teacher retention in Houston.

HISD numbers

“I think they’re doing horribly because first of all, they can’t even define what an effective teacher is other than test scores.”

Fallon points to other numbers, like how more than 600 teachers left their jobs before the end of the school year last year.

She says many teachers were actually good teachers and quit because of problems with their principals.

Bio photo of Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...