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Note to Teachers: Stay in School

Retaining beginning teachers is a continuing problem in the United States – and around the world. Approximately one-third of all new teachers leave the profession within their first three years of teaching, increasing to nearly 50 percent after the first five years.

Scary figures considering the importance great teachers make in the lives of our future Marie Curies, Warren Buffetts and Steve Jobses. But teacher turnover is costly in more ways than one. It is estimated that the cost incurred by a school system to replace just one teacher can range from $12,350 to $15,750.

Researchers at NC State are trying to help keep new teachers in the classroom.

Researchers at NC State’s College of Education are working to combat the teacher retention problem through data. Previous research indicates a number of factors that appear to impact new teachers’ perceptions of success and their willingness to remain in teaching – such as mentoring, time to interact with colleagues, proper resources and face-to-face time with school administrators. Researchers created an instrument that allows school systems to gather critical data that can improve efforts to induct and retain beginning teachers – the Perceptions of Success Inventory for Beginning Teachers (PSI-BT). The PSI-BT  – administered as both a paper and Web-based survey – is the first psychometrically sound instrument that assesses beginning teachers on all factors known to contribute to new teacher retention.

NC State  graduate, Dr. Kristen Corbell, alongside Dr. Jason Osborne and Dr. Alan Reiman, both associate professors of curriculum and instruction, enlisted the participation of 12 N.C. school districts that ranged in size from 11 beginning teachers to 263 beginning teachers, representing rural and suburban districts. Four hundred and fifty beginning teachers in their first three years of teaching submitted surveys, and 439 had complete data on the PSI-BT.

The results? Researchers found the PSI-BT to be reliable and valid in predicting job satisfaction, commitment and teacher retention. The instrument provides insight into the most critical factors to maintaining new-teacher satisfaction and job commitment, which in turn relates to intentions of remaining within the profession. Researchers hope that data from PSI-BT can lead to more strategic professional-development initiatives that are tailored to the areas of need revealed by the instrument – providing new teachers the support they need to thrive in the profession.

The study, “Supporting and retaining beginning teachers: a validity study of the Perceptions of Success Inventory for Beginning Teachers,” was published in the February 2010 issue of Educational Research and Evaluation.