Can Good Principals Keep Teachers in Disadvantaged Schools? Linking Principal Effectiveness to Teacher Satisfaction and Turnover in Hard-to-Staff Environments

Nov. 10, 2011

Source: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 11, 2011.

Little research has examined the reasons for elevated teacher turnover in schools with large numbers of traditionally disadvantaged students.


The current study hypothesizes that school working conditions help explain both teacher satisfaction and turnover.
In particular, this study focuses on the role of effective principals in retaining teachers, particularly in disadvantaged schools with the greatest staffing challenges.

Research Design
The study conducts quantitative analyses of national data from the 2003-04 Schools and Staffing Survey and the 2004-05 Teacher Follow-up Survey.


Descriptive analyses confirm that observable measures of teachers’ work environments, including ratings of the effectiveness of the principal, are generally less positive in schools with large numbers of disadvantaged students.
Regression results show that principal effectiveness is associated with greater teacher satisfaction and a lower probability that the teacher leaves the school within a year.
Moreover, the positive impacts of principal effectiveness on these teacher outcomes are even greater in disadvantaged schools.

These findings suggest that policies focused on getting the best principals into the most challenging school environments may be effective strategies for lowering perpetually high teacher turnover rates in those schools.

Updated: Nov. 01, 2011