Alaska education board reports high teacher turnover

    Anchorage, Alaska (AP) - Alaska has high teacher turnover rates across the state, an education agency announced.

    After examination, the state Board of Education has reported that 25 superintendents out of the state's 54 school districts have been in their position for less than two years. Among the 25 superintendents, 13 started their positions at the beginning of this school year.

    These rates mirror a national trend of teachers leaving the profession without being replaced, Education Commissioner Michael Johnson said. The Alaska problem is more pronounced.

    "We are experiencing turnover at the teacher, principal and superintendent level at rates we've never seen in Alaska before," said Lisa Parady, the executive director of Alaska Council of School Administrators.

    A lack of competitive salaries and benefits could be the cause, Parady said. The board has started to explore alternative certification pathways that won't sacrifice teacher quality.

    "My focus as commissioner is making effective schools because folks want to work in effective schools," Johnson said.

    On Oct. 15, the state education department is expecting to have the latest data to determine how many teachers are leaving the state, officials said.

    The University of Alaska Anchorage education program's loss of accreditation could also pose long-term problems, officials said.

    There were more than 470 students who were pursuing an education major at the university last fall, but 150 of those students have left the school altogether, said Steve Atwater, the executive dean of the College of Education.

    The "rate of attrition is extremely high, it's unheard of," Atwater said.

    Despite many leaving for reasons unrelated to the revocation of program accreditation, "we're confident we can get back to where we need to be," he said.

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