Recent Trends in the Characteristics of New Teachers, the Schools in Which They Teach, and Their Turnover Rates
by Christopher Redding & Tuan D. Nguyen - 2020
Background: Over the past couple of decades, new teachers have become a pronounced focus of policy makers. This attention is a result of demographic shifts in the teacher labor market, increased attention to the quality of teachers assigned to historically underserved student populations, and high rates of new teacher turnover.
Purpose: Our goal is to understand how the characteristics of new teachers and the schools in which they teach have changed over time, including changes in the characteristics of teachers in schools that enroll a majority of economically disadvantaged and minority students. We examine how these broad changes relate to new teacher turnover, as well as the induction supports that may improve retention.
Research Design: We draw on nationally representative data from all seven waves of the Schools and Staffing Survey from the 1987–1988 to 2011–2012 school years to better understand the extent to which the characteristics of beginning teachers, the schools in which they teach, and their turnover rates have changed over time. We draw on data regarding teachers’ demographic characteristics, education and credentials, and school characteristics and working conditions, and turnover.
Data Analysis: We first describe how characteristics of new teachers and the schools in which they teach have changed. We then examine how these characteristics vary systematically across schools that enroll a majority of students who identify as racial/ethnic minorities and schools with fewer racial/ethnic minorities. We examine the extent to which new teachers are more likely than more experienced teachers to turn over from underserved schools and how organizational supports such as administrative support and induction programs predict lower rates of turnover.
Findings: Beginning teachers are now more likely to be certified, to have earned a graduate degree, and to have graduated from a selective college. They are also much more likely to begin their careers in schools that enroll more racially diverse students than in previous decades. Teachers are more likely to turn over from schools where the majority of students identify as racial/ethnic minorities, although the presence of supportive colleagues and administrators and induction supports are associated with lower turnover rates.
Conclusions: That the majority of new teachers now begin their careers in schools serving a majority of economically disadvantaged and minority students has implications for the preparation and induction of new teachers. Our results point to the continued importance of the provision of supports that integrate teachers into the social and professional culture of a school.
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