NEWARK, OH — Newark City Schools (NCS) in Ohio is prioritizing teacher retention across the district and has launched a new partnership with Upbeat, an innovative teacher retention organization led by former teachers and school leaders. Like many districts across the country, NCS has seen increasing challenges with employee retention. The new initiative reflects the district's commitment to address the factors contributing to retention and empowering staff members with opportunities aimed at improving district culture and climate, as noted in its strategic plan passed on July 14, 2022.
“As a district, we are committed to working proactively on climate and culture for our staff and students. More and more teachers are leaving mid-year, and it’s crucial for us to understand why that’s happening and how we can improve it,” said David L. Lewis, Superintendent of Newark City Schools. “Working with Upbeat will allow us to listen to our staff, improve systems and strategies, and, in turn, improve staff satisfaction and retention.”
Newark City Schools administered Upbeat’s research-based engagement survey to certified and classified staff across Newark City in mid-January. Teacher participation was 89% for the initial survey, allowing the district to track and measure growth in categories that impact teacher retention.
After each survey administration, district leaders will work with an Upbeat leadership coach, Dr. Emily Qazilbash, to examine data and understand key insights in the district’s current retention and engagement efforts. Dr. Qazilbash is also a Professor of Practice in Education at Brown University and former Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Human Capital at Boston Public Schools.
From the initial results, NCS is focused on appreciation, work/life balance, professional development, and cultural competence, and will take action to improve in each category. Dr. Qazilbash met with principals on Monday, February 13, to review the data and discuss recommended action steps. Newark City Schools leadership will take the recommendations and create specific action plans from the engagement data.
The district will administer the survey again this spring to track progress toward goals.
“We’re excited about our initial data and looking forward to seeing our initial action steps impact teachers and improve engagement throughout the district,” Lewis said.
NCS has a strong support system for new teachers through its Resident Educator Mentor Program for teachers in their first four years of teaching, led by Barbara Quackenbush, Assistant Superintendent of Certificated/Licensed Personnel at Newark City Schools, and three mentor teachers. Out of the 256 resident educators since 2011, 66.5% are still teaching within the Newark City Schools.
Upbeat continues to build strategic partnerships with schools and districts across the country in an effort to improve teacher engagement and retention using data. More information about the company and its approach can be found at http://teachupbeat.com
Upbeat works with K-12 districts across the country to administer a research-grounded survey to elevate teacher engagement and retention by fostering strong school environments. Founded and led by former educators, we bring together data scientists, technologists, and experienced former school leaders to deliver a research-backed solution. Our surveys paired with tailored toolkits and intervention strategies, surface real-time insights so that principals and district leaders are able to better understand and uncover the conditions affecting employee morale and establish actionable plans to improve teacher and staff retention. More information about the company and its approach can be found at http://teachupbeat.com.