Portraying secondary science teacher retention with the person-position framework: An analysis of a state cohort of first-year science teachers

Douglas B. Larkin, Suzanne Poole Patzelt, Khadija M. Ahmed, Liz Carletta, Catherine R. Gaynor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study uses state-level staffing data to analyze the five-year career trajectories of all 231 first-year secondary science teachers in New Jersey who began teaching during the 2010-2011 school year. The person-position framework for studying teacher retention is introduced in this analysis, and the authors present a case for the importance of specifying both location and duration in empirical reporting on teacher retention, as well as distinguishing between the employers’ and individual teachers’ perspectives on retention. In the cohort studied here, the 5-year retention-by-employer rate was 38%, but the retention-in-profession rate for those actively teaching was 65%. An additional 24% of science teachers changed districts during or immediately after their first year, and were retained in their second districts for four or more years. 16% of the science teachers in the cohort identified as non-White or Hispanic and these teachers were retained at similar rates to their White/non-Hispanic counterparts. Alternate route preparation programs attracted many more secondary science teachers who identified as non-White or Hispanic, but teachers from these programs had a far lower 5-year retained-in-profession rate (45%) than non-White or Hispanic traditional route teachers (75%). It was more common for science teachers in higher SES districts to transfer to lower SES districts than the reverse. The position turnover rate for science teachers was slightly lower in higher SES districts. As a category, charter schools had the lowest 5-year science teacher retention rate (13%). There was no identifiable relationship between the age, sex, subject area certification, or starting salary of science teachers and the measures of retention used in this study. The authors discuss the characterization of retention itself in research, including the use of descriptors related to retention. Implications relating to science teacher education policy are discussed, as is the future use of state-level data systems in retention research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1235-1273
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Volume59
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Keywords

  • equity
  • policy
  • science teacher education
  • teacher attrition
  • work environment

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