Children participate in an activity at Blossom Valley Elementary School in El Cajon on Nov. 28, 2022.
Children participate in an activity at Blossom Valley Elementary School in El Cajon on Nov. 28, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

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After a brief Covid-era hiatus, Voice of San Diego’s Parent’s Guide to San Diego Schools is back, baby! The guide is packed with much of the same data goodness, school guidance and perspective that readers have come to trust and expect. But there’s one small, yet noticeable, change. The state has stopped reporting teachers’ average number of years teaching. Exactly why that decision was made is unclear, as California Department of Education officials did not respond to my emailed questions. 

The average years teaching figure has been replaced with the much blunter, and less helpful, “percent of experienced teachers” metric. That metric shows the percentage of teachers at a given school who have at least two years of teaching experience. While it’s not nothing, it’s far from the snapshot that the average years teaching figure was.  

Let me give you an example. If all of a school’s teachers have just two years of teaching experience, that school would be listed as having 100 percent of its teachers be “experienced.” Based on data from our last Schools Guide, back when the state provided average years of teaching data, an average of two years of teaching experience at a school is extremely low – around 12 years less than the county’s total average. So even if 100 percent of a school’s teachers are “experienced,” that doesn’t mean the school’s average years of teaching is higher than other schools, some of which may have a lower percentage of “experienced” teachers. 

The data also has far less range than the previous data. According to the data gathered for this year’s Schools Guide, the school with the lowest percentage of experienced teachers is Spencer Valley Elementary, at which 57 percent of teachers met the bar to be classified as “experienced.” But Spencer Valley is a significant outlier. Only one other school is in the 60 percent range. Most schools are hovering in the 90 to 100 percent range.  

Meanwhile, based on the previous metric, schools had anywhere from 2.5 to 25 years of average teacher experience. That lack of variability drains some of the nuance from what was an informative statistic.  

There’s also another problem. This year data on percentage of experienced teachers was missing from more than 170 schools. In our previous guide, we were missing teacher experience data for less than 50 schools. 

During the High Tech High teachers union’s battle for a contract, many complained that lots of teachers were fired or quit, and that the campuses suffered because of a lack of experience among teachers. Looking at the average years of teaching experience data it was clear High Tech High schools did in fact have some of the least experienced teachers at any school in San Diego. Of the over 600 schools throughout the county for which average years of teaching experience was collected, 10 of the 13 schools with the least experienced teachers were High Tech High campuses. This year, only two of High Tech High’s 16 locations list the percentage of experienced teachers at their schools.  

Content That’s Bouncing Around My Mind Palace 

  • Canyon Springs Church, which holds its services at a San Diego Unified middle school, recently hosted a speaker who believes “being gay is incompatible with being Christian,” reports Kristen Taketa at the Union-Tribune. Now, over 600 people have signed a petition calling for the district to cease its rental agreement with the church. Trouble is, that may be against the law. 
  • San Diego State University is among the California colleges still using remote proctoring services that include room scans for some tests, even after a court ruled it was unconstitutional. 
  • Curious how much the superintendent of your local school district is getting paid? The Union-Tribune has you covered. The list tops out at nearly half a million dollars when you include benefits. 

What We’re Writing 

Jakob McWhinney

Jakob McWhinney is Voice of San Diego's education reporter.

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