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Careers in Motion: A Longitudinal Retention Study of Role Changing Among Early-Career Urban Educators

by Karen Hunter Quartz, Andrew Thomas, Lauren Anderson, Katherine Masyn, Kimberly Barraza Lyons & Brad Olsen

Background/Context:Teacher retention, especially of qualified teachers within high-poverty schools, is an issue of local, national, and international concern. School staffing research has typically examined two groups: those who remain in full-time classroom teaching versus those who quit teaching altogether. This article complicates the teacher staffing picture and adds a third category of attrition: role changing, which is the phenomenon of teachers shifting into nonteaching professional roles in the field of education.

Purpose: We asked what proportion of teacher career movement within our sample was attributable to leaving teaching versus role changing. Further, we wanted to know the influence of race/ethnicity, gender, credential type, and age on role-changing patterns.

Research Design: To deepen our understanding of teacher career patterns, we conducted a 6-year longitudinal study that involved collecting survey data on teacher career movement, school experiences, and attitudes from 838 well-prepared urban educators in their first through eighth career year. These educators had all completed master’s degrees in the teacher education program of a high-status urban public university and all began their careers as teachers. After collecting the data, we documented and diagrammed career patterns. In addition, we analyzed the influence of select time invariant covariates on the hazard probabilities of both role changing and leaving education.

Findings/Results: The study found that not only did teachers move into a variety of nonteaching roles within the field of education, but they also followed diverse career “pathways” along the way. Survival analysis substantiated prior research showing that Latino teachers have lower attrition rates from the field of education compared with White teachers, but this effect disappeared for role changing with the field. In terms of gender, the men in our population were less likely to leave education entirely than women but more likely to leave teaching for a role change in career years 3–8. Teachers with single-subject (secondary) credentials were more likely than their colleagues who held multiple-subject (elementary) credentials to leave teaching for a role change in education.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Set within the framework of teacher professionalism, we argue that role changing is a form of sanctioned attrition and that understanding movement among roles within the educational workforce is essential for crafting policies and incentives to keep well-prepared teachers rooted in careers that serve the nation’s most underserved students.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 110 Number 1, 2008, p. 218-250 ID Number: 14598, Date Accessed: 10/16/2018 2:52:25 AM

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