Keeping Our Best? A Survival Analysis Examining a Measure of Preservice Teacher Quality and Teacher Attrition

Mar. 01, 2019

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Volume: 70 issue: 2, page(s): 115-127

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this study, the researchers analyzed data from an apprenticeship-style teacher preparation program to understand the relationship between a measure of preservice teacher quality—student teachers’ observational scores—and their decisions to (a) enter into the profession, and (b) stay in the profession within the first 2 years after graduation.

Research Question
The authors examined data from an apprenticeship-style teacher preparation program to answer the following question: “To what extent is preservice teacher quality (measured by observational scores) associated with entering and subsequently staying (i.e., retention) in the profession in the first 2 years of employment?”

To answer this question, they used data from five cohorts of preservice teachers and related indicators of their quality as measured by professionalism ratings and observational scores to their subsequent career decisions.
They focused on the first 2 years after graduation as these are considered critical years for novice teachers (Ingersoll, 2003).

The authors found that novice teachers with higher evaluation scores during their preservice year are more likely to enter and more likely to stay in the profession in the first 2 years after graduation.
This result is consistent with findings that more effective teachers are less likely to move across schools and leave the profession.

The authors note that their research suggests that recruiting higher quality teachers into the profession is associated with lower rates of attrition, at least in the first 2 years.
The authors also found that observational measures of teacher quality during student teaching are predictive of entrance and retention in the profession.
They also note some evidence of a selection mechanism:
The yearlong student teaching residency seems to be critical for student teachers’ decisions to enter the profession.
Finally, although the authors were not able to determine the mechanisms behind the relationship between teacher quality and the likelihood to stay in the profession, they provide plausible explanations that are consistent with their findings.
For instance, that higher quality teachers feel competent in their work and, therefore, are more satisfied with their career choices, which further leads to them staying in the profession.
For the low-quality teachers who receive signals about their performance it could be that the cost of improving is too high and they instead decide to leave the profession and switch to another occupation.
They note that their results might also reflect the fact that low performing teachers likely experience less satisfaction from the profession, which may be exacerbated by the negative feedback described above.
Furthermore, it could be that higher quality teachers are given more positive feedback or that supervisors create more desirable working conditions for these teachers in an effort to retain them.

Ingersoll, R. (2003). Is there really a teacher shortage? Seattle, WA: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy. Retrieved from

Updated: Jun. 02, 2019


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