State-of-the-State of Texas Retention of High School Science Teachers



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Concerns about turnover of highly qualified science teachers have pervaded education stakeholder discussions for several years. Yet little is known about where are we in retaining high science teachers in Texas public schools. The three empirical studies included in this dissertation used mixed research methods to explore data collected by the Policy Research Initiative in Science Education (PRISE) Research Group during the 2007-2010 school years.

The first study examined mobility patterns and hiring patterns of high school science teachers after two school years. I used descriptive statistical analyses to investigate relationships between teacher-level variables (i.e., teacher type, age, ethnicity, and gender) and school-level variables (i.e., school size and minority student enrollment proportion) with respect to movement out and into Texas schools. Findings revealed variations in mobility patterns of science teachers, based on size and minority student enrollment proportion of the schools in which they worked. Hiring patterns revealed that schools typically hired young, novice White female teachers regardless of school size or minority student enrollment proportion.

The second study explored the relationships between schools? retention strategies and retention challenges with schools? science teacher retention rates, respectively. I used multiple regression and descriptive statistical analyses to investigate the relationships between study variables. While regression models predicting science teacher retention were not remarkable, descriptive statistical analyses revealed notable relationships between several school-level variables and school retention status.

The third study investigated relationships among three variables: school retention strategies, science teacher job satisfaction, and science teacher mobility. Multilevel analyses were used to investigate relationships between two-level variables. Findings revealed no relationships of significance between school retention strategies or teacher job satisfaction with teacher mobility. However, interactions between predictor variables indicated that satisfied science teachers were more likely to remain at schools that expressed and showed appreciation for teachers than to leave the profession.

Findings from these studies were used to make state-, district-, and school-level policy recommendations for high school science teachers that included: (a) tailoring recruitment and retention supports to meet the needs of underrepresented teacher populations leading science classrooms, (b) recognizing schools that successfully retain science teachers, and (c) providing professional development for high school principals to assist with the design of strategic plans to improve job satisfaction and retention of teachers.