Closing the Achievement Gap: Start with Teacher Retention


Individual Presentation

First Presenter's Institution

New York City Department of Education

Second Presenter's Institution


Third Presenter's Institution


Fourth Presenter's Institution


Fifth Presenter's Institution



Harborside East & West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership


  1. This proposal relates to closing achievement gaps and promoting achievement for all children and youth in strand 1- “Head” – Academic Achievement and Leadership. The premise is that promoting student achievement is invariably linked with effective school teachers.

Brief Program Description

  1. Retaining good teachers remains a daunting challenge in many school districts, particularly urban areas where they are needed most. Finding, hiring, training, and retaining good teachers can become a difficult policy issue for a school district. Without good teachers, closing achievement gaps can become an intractable phenomenon. This presentation will examine two main teacher recruitment approaches and their retention patterns.


    1. This presentation will investigate whether teacher retention is contingent upon the manner of entry into K-12 public school teaching. Teacher retention is important because it is necessary to retain teachers so that they can learn to become better teachers. Better teachers ultimately become effective teachers that are instrumental in raising student achievement. Teacher turnover can be a significant impediment to retention and ultimately to teacher development. It is also associated with serious economic and non-economic costs to the school and district at large. To this end, it may benefit schools and school districts to pay particular attention to hiring and retaining teachers, especially the quality ones – for the long haul.

    Current teacher labor market literature is deficient in serious analytical frameworks for understanding longitudinal cohort retention comparisons of traditional and non-traditional teachers, as well as analysis of quit behaviors that focus on when a teacher is at the greatest risk of quitting. This study endeavors to bridge this gap. With a large-scale administrative data set comprising cohorts of traditional and non-traditional teachers from the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), I utilized discrete-time survival analysis modeling, specifically, the Cox Proportional Hazards (PH) model, to analyze the quit - retention behaviors of a cohort of teachers from traditional and non-traditional pathways over a five-year period.

    I found similar retention patterns between the two groups with notable peculiar patterns for the non-traditional group. The data suggests that year of entry into teaching, age, sex, ethnicity, subject taught, and school type or school level can be important relative predictors of retention. Knowing this can inform teacher hiring decisions at the district or local level, or even at the school level.


  1. Although the focus of my study and presentation is NYC, available literature suggests that its findings can be applicable beyond its local context. I also hope that it will raise enough questions to motivate future research in the areas beyond its purview. The undeniable policy implication from this study is: context and school leadership matter enormously in teacher retention. Policy adaptations must provide avenues for the beginning teacher, whether they are traditionally trained teachers or those who entered teaching via alternative routes - to have a comprehensive understanding of, and be fully prepared to adapt to, the contexts of the teaching environment – the school, the neighborhood, the students, the families, etc.

The contextual understanding breeds the awareness necessary to adapt if/when needed. Enlightened school leaders become catalysts for the beginning teacher – coaching, listening, encouraging, coaxing, and admonishing when necessary. The stakes are too high to continue to allow more than 50 percent of teachers to leave within the first five years. As this study has shown, the retention rates for TFs were far below the national average.

Arguably, the teachers who quit probably do not belong in teaching and might have made poor teachers. It is not impossible. At the same time, it is also equally conceivable that a good number of those who leave will leave with unfulfilled potential of becoming very effective. For every one of the potentially highly effective teacher who quits, the nation stands to lose more than $440,000 in the labor market per probable class taught (Hanushek, 2011). The NYCDOE spends on average $20,000 to $30,000 to train each TF. The economic loss to the NYC school system when a TF leaves while beyond the scope of this study, appears to be substantial. The social costs loom even larger. It is time to act on the policy suggestions coming from studies like this.

Perhaps the most important policy implication of this study is in uncovering the “net” positive effects of the NYCTF program. Apart from the fact that the NYC school system now relies on the TFP as a steady source of teacher recruitment for up to 11% of its annual teaching force, it can be argued that the program has successfully discovered an approach to attract applicants who would have otherwise not be attracted into teaching because they were initially trained in other fields. While data on their learning as teachers are currently sparse, this study has contributed significantly to the knowledge on their retention. The critical recommendation is to use this knowledge to address the drastic drop in TFs’ retention (starting in the second and continuing in the other years of teaching), through some of the approaches discussed above. The alternative will be to continue to hire from what some observers have described as a lower quality pool. The needs of the students in the underperforming, low income schools that TFs mostly serve have been well documented and alluded to in the literature review. I have also discussed the findings of other researchers that have shown that that on average, TFs tend to be better prepared academically as demonstrated by their relatively higher S.A.T. scores and undergraduate academic concentrations. TFs therefore have the potential to become quality teachers. Students generally benefit from quality teachers; underperforming, low-income students benefit even more.

Biographical Sketch

  1. Dr. Charles Ogundimu is a life-long education professional who began his career in education with the NYCDOE as a middle school math and reading teacher in the Bronx more than 20 years ago. After spending four years teaching at the middle school level, he moved on to the high schools where he taught accounting & business, and later, mathematics, for several years. He ultimately rose up the ladder to the position of Assistant Principal of Mathematics and Assistant Principal of Organization at Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education (CTE) High School. His accomplishments at Smith H.S. included raising the passing rate in Math A/Sequential I from 24% in 2003 to 75% in 2005; a 100% passing rate on the Math B Regents in June 2004; raising the passing rate for Math B Regents by 26.4% in June 2006; raising the Regents Competency Test (RCTs) results by 34 percentage points from 24% in 2004 to 56% in 2006; instituting the Advanced Placement Calculus (AB), U.S. History and English Language and Composition courses

After twelve years of classroom teaching and about eight years of supervisory experience as a department chair and the Assistant Principal of A.E. Smith High School, Dr. Ogundimu became the Principal of Monroe Academy for Business & Law (MABL) in 2010, where he helped navigate the school through an admirable phase-out process. Even though the school was one of the lowest performing high schools in New York City and State and was already designated for closure before he was assigned there, Dr. Ogundimu characteristically tackled each difficult challenge with level headedness, remarkable analytical ability and decisive decision-making. In the second semester of his principalship, after studying the data closely and learning that too many students were deficient in credit accumulation, hence jeopardizing graduation prospects, he implemented the opportunity credit recovery program whereby students were provided the opportunity to “catch up” with their credits in a trimester format. Contrary to the typical after-school or Saturday school programs – which he also established - , Dr. Ogundimu’s opportunity credit recovery system was incorporated into the students’ regular program. Solely as a result of this program, close to 95% of the students who were off-track got back on track for graduation. In addition, in his second year as Principal, he instituted physics, chemistry Regents classes, and Advanced Placement English and U.S. History courses to improve college and career readiness for students. That same year (2012), 100% of the students who sat for the chemistry Regents and 92% of the students who sat for the physics Regents passed. To help teachers deepen their understanding and adaptation of the Danielson’s Framework for Teaching plan, he provided additional, targeted professional development support for every teacher by partnering with ClassLink, an external professional development provider licensed by NYS and NYC. In the words of the teachers, this was a “God-sent” because of the level and substance of PD that each teacher was provided. His belief in educating the “whole child” was well-known throughout MABL. In addition to the regularly assigned guidance counselor, Dr. Ogundimu again partnered with yet another outside provider - Counseling in Schools - an organization that provides supplemental socio-emotional support for students. Close to 60% of his students at Monroe benefitted from the extra socio-emotional support services provided by this outside agency.

Dr. Ogundimu has a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc. Honors) degree in Business Administration and Accounting from the University of Lagos, in Nigeria; a Master of Science (M.S. Honors) degree in Educational Computing from Iona College, in New Rochelle; a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) and a Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Economics & Education from Columbia University, Teachers College. He is a published author who has presented papers at educational conferences and has been a discussant on educational panels.

Dr. Ogundimu has a profound understanding of teaching and learning, schooling and school improvement, as well as educational leadership, particularly in the urban context. An avid reader; he is intelligent, exceedingly thoughtful, particularly knowledgeable, extremely versatile, and enormously capable with a wealth of experience and a proven track record in classroom teaching and school leadership.

Keyword Descriptors

Teacher retention, Teacher labor market, Alternative teacher certification, New York City Teaching Fellows, Teacher quality, Teacher effectiveness

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-7-2017 4:00 PM

End Date

3-7-2017 5:30 PM

This document is currently not available here.


Mar 7th, 4:00 PM Mar 7th, 5:30 PM

Closing the Achievement Gap: Start with Teacher Retention

Harborside East & West

  1. Retaining good teachers remains a daunting challenge in many school districts, particularly urban areas where they are needed most. Finding, hiring, training, and retaining good teachers can become a difficult policy issue for a school district. Without good teachers, closing achievement gaps can become an intractable phenomenon. This presentation will examine two main teacher recruitment approaches and their retention patterns.