Unique partnership with Upbeat draws on teacher engagement and survey tools to provide district leaders with a fresh perspective on factors that affect staff turnover

January 24, 2017


San Marcos, TX—San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) today, announced a partnership with Upbeat, an innovative teacher retention solution founded by a former teacher that uses data science to measure teacher engagement and predict teacher turnover.  With insights generated from Upbeat’s unique survey instrument, San Marcos district leaders have access to information that can be used to better support teachers and employees across the district’s 11 schools.

“Our mission at San Marcos CISD is to provide the best education that we can for all students. In order to do that, we need to ensure that our staff members are engaged and San Marcos CISD is a place where they want to teach for a long time,” said Michael Cardona, Superintendent at San Marcos CISD. “It can be a challenge to measure and understand the satisfaction of our staff across schools and departments, so we are excited to be able to leverage Upbeat’s technology to help our administrators improve teacher retention through more clearly understanding the sentiments of their staff and the best ways to drive engagement across the board.”

Last spring, nearly 1,000 San Marcos CISD staff members participated in an Upbeat survey designed to measure engagement in the K-12 environment. The survey, derived from existing and internal research on factors that drive whether teachers leave or stay, was developed with input from several top researchers in the field, including Dr. Sarah Birkeland, a teacher turned researcher who has spent years studying teacher turnover, including serving as Senior Research Associate with Harvard’s Project on the Next Generation of Teachers.

In May, San Marcos’ staff received information on staff engagement, which enabled them to consider results by individual school, grade and subject, among others.  Because of Upbeat’s unique approach, individual teacher data remains confidential, anonymized, and encrypted but administrators can learn about patterns to prepare for turnover and improve the working conditions and experience of teachers.

Findings from the District’s collaboration with Upbeat revealed both strengths and opportunities.

  • Ninety-percent of elementary teachers reported that their principals carried out commitments to the staff and looked out for the welfare of teachers, a critical element of trust and indicator of employee engagement.
  • In addition, 92% of middle school teachers shared that all teachers in their school set high standards for academic work in their classes, an important predictor of high student achievement.
  • The District also learned that teachers felt left out of decision making and that their input was not valued sufficiently by administrators.
  • This year, school leaders have taken steps to initiate new protocols for employee recognition and develop systems to include teachers in important decisions that affect their workday.

“Too often, district leaders are unable to clearly understand what is driving success or failure in their district around teacher morale and retention,” said Henry Wellington, founder and CEO of Upbeat. “San Marcos CISD is dedicated to supporting its teachers, and we look forward to working with them to increase staff engagement and retention, and drive down the cost of recruiting new teachers.”

About Upbeat
Upbeat transforms the way k-12 school districts measure teacher engagement…Easy. Online. Personalized. Upbeat’s software enables district and school leaders to understand and improve teacher retention. Schools across the United States are partnering with Upbeat to strengthen employee engagement, teacher satisfaction and retention through Upbeat’s clear analytics and strategic insight which create work environments that teachers deserve.


Media Contact for Upbeat
Jenna Talbot
P: 202.851.3607
E: jenna@whiteboardadvisors.com