Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 114 Number 10, 2012
The primary purpose of this study is to examine whether older entrants to teaching are more likely than younger recruits to voluntarily remain in low-income schools and the teaching profession as a whole.
The author also explores whether older new teachers’ backgrounds differ from those of younger new teachers and whether they are more likely than their younger counterparts to remain in K–12 school-based jobs (i.e., teaching, working as a specialist or administrator).
In addition, the author examines whether older new teachers who leave the profession have different reasons for doing so than younger new teachers and whether they enter different occupations after teaching.
The author used a sample of over 2,000 Teach For America (TFA) teachers who began their careers in schools serving high proportions of low-income and minority children.
The sample is drawn from a census of all teachers enrolled in the 2000, 2001, and 2002 TFA cohorts.
The author found that older TFA entrants to teaching had a lower risk than did younger entrants of leaving low-income schools, the teaching profession, and broader school-based roles.
The author further found that older entrants’ backgrounds differed from younger entrants. Older entrants were significantly more likely than their younger counterparts to be male, to be African American, and to have lived in the locale where they were placed by TFA.
Among respondents who left teaching, older entrants’ reasons for doing so differed significantly from those noted by younger entrants.
Older entrants to teaching were significantly more likely than younger entrants to cite family or health matters as a very or extremely important factor in their decision to leave.
Last, older entrants who left the profession also entered significantly different types of professions than did younger entrants.
Most notably, older entrants to teaching were significantly more likely than younger entrants to become a K–12 specialist or administrator after they left the classroom.
These findings suggest that older entrants to teaching may prove a promising source of teachers for low-income schools.
On all measures, older entrants demonstrated more commitment to low-income schools and the teaching profession than did their younger counterparts.
More broadly, districts seeking to develop human capital across multiple levels of the system might also consider targeting older individuals as a source of new teachers.
Not only do these people appear to teach longer, but if they leave teaching, they are more likely than younger entrants to remain in schools in roles other than classroom teacher.