Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Determinants of Beginning Teacher Career Outcomes: Who Stays and Who Leaves?
by Schmidt, Elena S., Ph.D., Temple University, 2017, 209; 10265327
Abstract (Summary)

Beginning teacher attrition is a problem that exacerbates the inequity of opportunities for all students, especially for those in schools that are already challenged by poverty. This study makes use of the Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Survey (covering the period between 2008 and 2012) and U.S. Census data to identify which teachers leave and to explain why. Beyond that, it also offers a look into the characteristics of those teachers who stay at the same school for five years. The empirical investigation is embedded in a conceptual framework that draws from motivation and identity theories and brings in insights about the importance of geography and of neighborhood effects from works on poverty and education.

The study utilizes a dataset with survey responses from approximately 1,800 full-time teachers from a sample designed to represent the overall population of beginning teachers in the United States. By combining individual-level longitudinal data with information about communities, it makes an important contribution to the study of new teacher placement, attrition, and retention. The evidence is presented using a variety of descriptive and inferential statistics, and the analysis includes factor analysis and logistic regression models.

The results show that indicators of leaving the profession before the fifth year become apparent early on, as factors measured at the end of year one have significant effects on early career outcomes. Most prominently, higher degrees of burnout reported by teachers, which includes factors such as decreased enthusiasm and increased fatigue, are associated with increased risks for leaving the profession without the prospect to return to it and with transferring to a different school district. Several other factors on the individual and school-level emerge as relevant to career outcomes. Teachers who have Highly Qualified Teacher credentials and report a supportive school climate are at less risk to leave the profession. On the other hand, teachers with alternative certification and master’s degrees are more likely to move to a different school or districts in the first five years.

In terms of socio-geographic factors that help explain teacher retention and attrition, the only significant variable in the regression models used in the analysis is the percentage of White residents at the Census tract of the Year 1 school. When everything else is held constant, decreasing this percentage from 100 to 0 increases the predicted probability of leaving the profession by approximately 20%. Considering that a vast majority of beginning teachers both in the sample and in the overall population are White, this findings fits in with theories about “the pull of home” and cultural habitus. The magnitude and significance of this finding suggest that it warrants further exploration, as racial composition of the communities is likely a measurement proxy for complex processes of inequality.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jordan, Will
Commitee: Cordes, Sarah, Cucchiara, Maia, Mennis, Jeremy
School: Temple University
Department: Urban Education
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 78/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Education Policy, Education
Keywords: Beginning teachers, Burnout, Racial segregation, Teacher attrition, Teacher retention, Teacher turnover
Publication Number: 10265327
ISBN: 9781369792935
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