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Preparing to Stay

Author(s): Kimberly Barrazza Lyons


Preparing to Stay: A Quantitative Examination
of the Effects of Pre-Service Preparation on the Retention of Urban Educators

As attrition, not supply, increasingly becomes recognized as the reason behind the continuing teacher shortage, policymakers have begun to focus on the preparation and development of beginning teachers as a means of stemming the teacher exodus, especially from high-poverty schools. Yet, little is known about the impact that teachers' pre-service preparation has on their professional attrition and mobility. This dissertation sought to better understand the influence of teacher education on educator retention, and to examine the extent to which pre-service preparation, and a specialized teacher preparation program, predicts teacher retention and movement.

Using an expanded definition of retention, and controlling for demographic and school level variables, the study examined teacher preparation data collected as part of NCES's 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and 2000-2001 Teacher Follow-up Surveys (TFS) to determine the associations between pre-service teacher preparation program components and program types and the retention of educators in the classroom and in the education profession. Typical of retention studies, this study used binomial logistic regression to examine predictors of staying in and leaving the classroom. Atypical of retention studies, this study then used multinomial logistic regression to explore predictors of teacher movement between schools and teacher role shifting within the field of education. After constructing analytic models based on the national teacher sample, the study then compared predicted versus observed rates in all three retention categories for a population of graduates of a specialized teacher preparation program. The study found that the type of pre-service preparation program that teachers attend and specific programmatic components significantly affect teachers retention in the classroom and the field of education. Further, it found that graduates of the specialized preparation program had higher than predicted classroom retention rates after their first two career years, but lower rates after years three through five. This classroom attrition translated into higher than predicted retention rates in the broader field of education, indicating a trend toward educational role shifting. Findings provide researchers and policymakers with concrete evidence of the role pre-service preparation may play in the retention of beginning teachers in high-poverty schools.

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