This article presents findings from a study that focuses on different types of teacher preparation programs and how they may affect teacher retention. The research questions included: 1) How do the retention rates of teachers coming from traditional teacher education programs compare with those of teachers coming from alternative routes? 2) Are new mathematics and science teachers with education degrees more likely or less likely to stay in the profession than those with degrees in mathematics or science? 3) Do the amount of practice teaching and the extent of preparation in pedagogical methods have any bearing on retention? The study was funded by the National Science Foundation. The data source was the National Center for Education Statistics’ nationally representative 2003–04 Schools and Staffing Survey, along with its supplement, the 2004–05 Teacher Follow-up Survey. This data source is the largest and most comprehensive data source available on elementary and secondary teachers and schools. The study focused on math and science teachers in their first year of teaching when attrition is found to be the highest. The overall conclusion of the study was that the preservice education and preparation of new mathematics and science teachers are strongly related to their retention, but varied depending on the aspect of preparation.
The data showed that the preparation of new mathematics and science teachers differed greatly from that of other teachers in several ways that included education and pedagogical preparation. With regards to education, beginning math and science teachers differed from other teaches in the following ways: 1) Beginning mathematics and science teachers were more likely to have received their bachelor’s degrees from the most selective colleges and universities, 2) Compared with other new teachers, beginning mathematics and science teachers were more likely to have obtained noneducation degrees, 3) Beginning math and science teachers, were less likely to report that they came through a traditional teacher education program, and more likely to have entered teaching through an alternative program. With regards to pedagogical preparation, beginning math and science teachers differed in the following ways: 1) Beginning science teachers—and to a lesser extent, mathematics teachers—tended to have less pedagogical preparation than other teachers, 2) Math and science teachers also had less practice teaching than other teachers before taking their first teaching job, 3) New math and science teachers were less likely to have had coursework in how to select materials or in learning theory and child psychology, and 4) New math and science teachers had fewer opportunities to observe others’ teaching or receive feedback on their own teaching. Finally, the study found that the amount and type of pedagogical preparation new teachers received was strongly correlated to attrition.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Ingersoll, R., Merrill, L., & May, H. (2012). Retaining Teachers: How Preparation Matters. Educational Leadership, 69(8), 30-34. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may12/vol69/num08/Retaining-Teachers.aspx