Date of Award

1994

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Lawrence C. Pierce

Abstract

This study explores district public policies and approaches in Louisiana that are likely to be effective in retaining new public classroom teachers. It does this by looking both at reasons for, and solutions to, new teacher attrition. It employs a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. These include quantitative analysis of the teacher attrition experience in Louisiana parish school districts as well as relationships of district, teacher and student variables to new teacher attrition rates. The qualitative analysis uses information from teachers and administrators in one rural and one non rural set of school districts with widely differing new teacher attrition experiences. This information includes new teacher ratings of teacher attrition reasons and solutions on questionnaires, teacher comments on the questionnaires and in focus group discussions, and interviews with district officials. District new teacher attrition ranges from 22% to 70%. The study finds that urbanization is a major factor in understanding new teacher attrition. Surprisingly, rural districts are more likely to lose teachers than urban districts. The problem of student discipline is clearly another major factor in new teacher attrition, especially in urban and suburban districts. Other major factors relate to poor school and district leadership, the low-rated quality of life in some districts, and disillusionment with teaching. Low salary and the availability of other job opportunities are two additional factors that affect new teachers' decisions to leave, but in an indirect way. The study concludes that district and school leaders can take steps to keep more of the new teachers they hire. Among the categories of steps they should consider are to address student discipline problems, increase chances for teacher success in other ways, raise salaries, and treat teachers professionally. The study presents a model whose purpose is to assist in understanding the difference among districts in their new teacher attrition experience. It examines the application of the model to the four districts selected for the study.

Pages

180

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