Academic Commons

Theses Doctoral

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Teacher Retention in the Era of Accountability

Sallman, Jennifer R.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of the standards-based accountability (SBA) provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on the retention of teachers of color. I am interested in this impact, given the growing body of evidence suggesting a more diverse teacher workforce would benefit all students, particularly students of color (Villegas & Irvine, 2010); however, the teacher workforce is becoming increasingly homogenous and white, in part, due to the declining retention of teachers of color. Overall, I hypothesize that the widespread introduction of SBA as prescribed by NCLB has changed teachers’ instructional practices, thereby changing teachers’ experiences of their job and ultimately their employment decisions. Further, I posit that those changes in teachers’ experience, particularly reductions in perceptions of classroom autonomy, disproportionately impacts the employment decisions of teachers of color (Ingersoll & May, 2011).
In this study, I answer three research questions: (1) How have trends in teacher retention changed over time and, how does that vary by teacher race/ethnicity? (2) What teacher-, school-, and organizational-factors influence teacher retention, and how do those vary by teacher race/ethnicity? (3) How has the widespread introduction of SBA through NCLB influenced teacher retention, and how does that vary by teacher race/ethnicity? I use the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and its accompanying Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS) to answer my three research questions.
Overall, I confirm an increasing decline in the retention of black and Hispanic teachers and decreasing perceptions of classroom autonomy, which coincides with the widespread introduction of SBA through the signing of NCLB in 2002. However, that decline in retention is only significant for black teachers and not for Hispanic teachers by 2007-08. Additionally, using a linear probability model, I found that the relationship between perceptions of classroom autonomy and retention varies by teacher race/ethnicity, and that there is a significant relationship between perceptions of classroom autonomy and retention for black teachers in 2007. However, I did not find that relationship for Hispanic teachers or white teachers.
Ultimately, using a difference-in-difference (DD) model, I only found a significant decline in retention for Hispanic teachers as result of the SBA provisions of NCLB; however, it is unclear how the SBA provisions of NCLB is driving that decline, since I did not find a meaningful relationship between perceptions of classroom autonomy and retention for Hispanic teachers. In that DD model, I did not find a similar decline for black teachers. On the contrary, I found that black teachers in 2007 in states that had previously adopted SBA provisions similar to those in NCLB (Prior states) experienced a significant decline retention and perceptions of classroom autonomy, despite previous exposures to those SBA provisions. These counterintuitive results lead me to reinterpret my results applying institutional theory. Using institutional theory, I concluded that Prior states were able to implement the SBA provisions of NCLB with greater fidelity and, therefore, the impact of NCLB on perceptions of classroom autonomy and retention was greatest for black teachers in those states. Based on these results, I offer future research and policy recommendations to improve the diversity of the teacher workforce.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Politics and Education
Thesis Advisors
Pallas, Aaron
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 23, 2018
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