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More Aspen School District educators considered leaving the field in 2022 than 2020

Statewide survey provides snapshot of general reflections

Students travel to the Aspen School District campus on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

In the 2022 iteration of the statewide Teaching and Learning Conditions Colorado survey, 19 educators from Aspen public schools reported that they were considering leaving the field of education altogether at the end of this school year.

That accounts for almost 13% of the Aspen School District staff members who completed the survey this year, a rate that’s almost double the state average of 6.8% this year and quadruple Aspen’s rate from two years ago of 2.9%. The state rate in 2020 was 3.7%.

Another 8.2% of Aspen survey-takers said they planned to work in the same role in a different district this year, compared to 3.6% in 2020. The state rate was 3.6% in 2022, down slightly from 4.2% in 2020.



The statistic comes from the survey’s “general reflection” section, which “gauges staff’s overall impressions of the school, as well as future employment plans,” according to survey data and reports that were released May 11. (For a primer on Aspen School District’s results, which showed an overall decline in favorable responses, go to https://bit.ly/3LbJUxL.)

In response to a question about what “best describes your plans after the end of this school year,” 71.9% of respondents reported they planned to stick around in their current position at the district after the 2021-22 school year. The percentage accounts for 105 of the 146 Aspen educators who answered the question.




Statewide, 78.3% reported they planned to stay in the same role, accounting for 34,549 of the 44,152 Colorado educators who answered the question.

Other survey answers included retiring, changing positions within the district and taking the same position at a different district or school.

The survey was administered from late January to early March this year, just as it was in 2018 and 2020; the results can be considered a “snapshot in time of faculty perceptions,” according to a chart of do’s and don’ts for interpreting the data.

The rates also aren’t a direct reflection of the latest retention rates. As of May 10, Aspen School District had recorded at least 35 departures, including 22 teachers and other certified staff, 10 support staff and three administrators, according to data sent in an email from district human resources director Amy Littlejohn.

Both the Aspen and state sticking-around rates for next-year plans were lower in 2022 than they were in 2020, when the survey was administered just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

In 2020, 85% of Aspen respondents reported that they planned to stay in their current role, which was higher than the state rate of 82.2% that year.

The survey did not ask respondents why they had chosen what they did for next year’s plans, but it did include other questions about overall impressions in the district in the same section.

In the 2022 survey, around 61.6% of Aspen respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they’d recommend their school in Aspen as a good place to work, compared to about 82.3% in 2020.

The overall “favorable response rate” for that question was 64% this year and 87% in 2020; survey administrators didn’t include “I don’t know” responses in that percentage calculation. In Colorado, the favorable response rate was 85.1% this year, down around a percentage point from 86.2% in 2020.

The score was a lot higher in the assessment of whether Aspen was a good place to learn, though. This year, 80.3% of Aspen respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, down 10 percentage points from 90.8% in 2020.

The favorable response rate for that question (disregarding “I don’t know answers” from the calculation) was 87.4% this year, down five points from 92.7% in 2020. The statewide rate this year was 88.6%, up slightly from 88.2% in 2020.

In response to the question “Which of the following most affects your decision about whether to continue working at this school?,” the answer “school staff” garnered 23.8% of the responses from Aspen educators in 2022. Salary was the second most popular answer with 22.4% of responses; district leadership and school leadership each collected 17.7% of the responses this year.

In 2020, the order was slightly different: salary was the top answer (29.8% of responses), school leadership was second (23.4%) and school staff was third (19.9%). District leadership got 9.2% of the responses that year, a tie with community support and engagement.

The top three factors in state responses this year were school leadership (30.9%), school staff (27.8%) and salary (16.2%). Those factors were in the same order in 2020, though weighted differently: school leadership accounted for 35.8% of responses, school staff accounted for 31.6% and salary accounted for 12.8%.

Who’s who

The 2020 survey had 144 responses from Aspen School District, including 123 teachers, seven school leaders and 14 support and services staff who “don’t typically provide academic instruction,” according to the survey results from that year. In the 2020-21 school year, the district employed around 255 “full time equivalent” staff, including about 139 teachers, according to the National Center for Education Statistics database.

Among the 2020 survey respondents, 83.6% had worked in the district for more than half a decade: 24.3% had worked there for 6 to 10 years, 35.4% had worked there for 11-20 years and 22.9% had worked there for 20-plus years.

The 2022 survey had 149 responses from Aspen School District, including 111 teachers, nine school leaders, 12 special service providers and 17 education support professionals, according to this year’s survey results.

Among the respondents, 65.7% had worked in the district for more than half a decade: 20.8% had worked there for 6-10 years, 22.1% had worked there 11-15 years and 22.8% had worked there for 20 years or more, accounting for 65.7% of the responses.

In the 2021-22 school year, the district employed around 260 staff, including 150 teachers and certified staff, district human resources director Littlejohn has previously said.

This story is one of a series exploring the data of the 2022 Teaching and Learning Conditions Colorado survey; for more reporting on the climate and culture at Aspen School District, visit aspentimes.com/education.

kwilliams@aspentimes.com

Education

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