Source: Journal of Teacher Education, 64(1), January/February 2013, p. 75-89.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article examines the use of two readily available measures of incoming teacher qualification—amount of teacher education coursework and the highly qualified teaching credential as methods for predicting the teaching confidence and retention of incoming and novice teachers in high poverty/high minority urban schools.
The author conducted a mixed-methods sequential-explanatory study, which involved the collection of data from the Schools and Staffing Survey (2009-2010) and qualitative interviews.
The findings reveal that qualifications do predict teacher efficacy, to an extent, yet they do not predict teacher retention.
Therefore, readily available measures of quality of teacher preparation can predict teachers’ feelings of confidence in the classroom but do not predict feelings of confidence in producing student outcomes in the face of outside influences.
The latter statement is especially troubling in high poverty/high minority urban schools—where the context of poverty creates significant challenges for teachers.
Furthermore, neither preparation level nor highly qualified teaching status predicts 1-year teacher retention for 1st-year teachers in urban schools.
Therefore, these easily accessible measures of preparedness do not provide necessary information for principals and administrators attempting to locate teachers able to remain in their schools. Interestingly, GTE )the feeling that you can produce positive outcomes in students despite outside influences), which is not measured by the variables evaluated under NCLB, does predict teacher retention.
Regarding this finding, novice teachers in high poverty/high minority schools indicate that retention and GTE are most likely influenced by preparation factors such as program quality and a focus/philosophy on educating students living in poverty.
Therefore, in addition to instruments based on federal qualifications, nonquantifiable screening interviews are an essential tool in the evaluation of incoming teacher candidates. More specifically, it is important that incoming teachers believe that they can help students in any context succeed at high levels.
In large urban school systems, these findings are especially troubling. Not only do those systems cope with the challenges of students living in poverty but also are responsible for staffing the largest number of schools—schools that, notably, have very high turnover rates. The findings presented herein pose a challenge to these districts because they indicate that those credentials and qualifications that are most commonly reviewed do not actually present the whole picture of that teacher’s likelihood of success.
These districts have the least amount of time and resources with which to evaluate their applicants and are rarely able to “dig in” and investigate program quality or qualities, but they should. In addition, although not a focus of the quantitative study, qualitative participants consistently recognized the importance of strong leaders in holding students to high standards and for attracting teachers to remain in the school.
Furthermore, preparation programs can also encourage preservice teachers to engage in student teaching in urban schools to give them experiences with urban students and urban school systems prior to entering the field.
In this sense, teacher education programs can learn a good deal from urban teacher residencies, and when applied to traditional teacher preparation programs, this process could have a greater impact.
Based on these findings, the author concludes that there is clearly a problem regarding the measurement of quality of preparation for teachers entering high poverty/high minority urban schools that desperately need a quality teaching force. To retain teachers, it is important that high poverty/high minority schools hire teachers who can articulate a belief in the success of the students in that school.