Date of Award

12-2019

Culminating Project Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.

Department

Educational Administration and Higher Education

College

School of Education

First Advisor

Roger Worner

Second Advisor

Kay Worner

Third Advisor

James Johnson

Fourth Advisor

John Eller

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Novice Teacher, Attrition, Minnesota, Rural

Abstract

The nationwide trend of novice teachers leaving schools at a disproportionately high rate comes at a time when schools strive to develop a staff of experienced, effective educators to increase student achievement. The price of novice teacher attrition includes financial costs like recruitment and hiring as well as lost professional development young teachers take with them when they leave. Intangible costs include the negative impact on schools as organizations resulting from high turnover as well as inconsistent instruction from an ever-changing teaching staff. Ultimately, student achievement pays the price of high rates of novice teacher attrition. McCann, Johannessen, and Ricca (2005) described the concern regarding teacher attrition, “We find the attrition of great numbers of talented teachers distressful, especially because of the devastating loss to the profession of the potential of these teachers and to the students whose lives they would affect” (p. 64).

The purpose of the study was to ascertain the causal factors, other than performance, of novice teachers’ attrition as perceived by responding school administrators and examine the impact of grit and resiliency on those novice teachers who resigned from their positions within the first years of teaching as perceived by the responding school administrators. A review of the literature found several factors that contributed to young teachers leaving their positions. Those factors included salary, student discipline concerns, lack of collegial support, lack of parental support, the decrease of professional prestige, lack of readiness to teach, and working conditions. A review of the literature also found that grit and resiliency can be mitigating, internal factors for novice teachers who are considering leaving their positions. In 2013, Angela Duckworth won the MacArthur Grant for her work with “Grit.” Grit builds on resiliency and is defined as the perseverance and passion to achieve long-term goals.

Results of the study indicated that some of the findings were consistent with the literature in that they had a significant impact on novice teachers’ decisions to leave their positions while other findings were found to be less influential than the literature suggested. Salary, student discipline concerns, lack of parental support, lack of readiness to teach, and a lack of respect for the field of education were found to be consistent with the literature as significant factors that impact novice teachers’ decisions to leave their teaching positions. The factors of working conditions, lack of collegial support, and a mentorship program were not found to be as compelling as the literature suggested. The impact of the internal factor of grit was inconclusive according to the findings from the study.

The loss of a single novice teacher is costly for schools and students. If any of the factors that contribute to teachers leaving their positions within the first five years can be reduced or eliminated, schools and students will benefit.

Comments/Acknowledgements

The journey of the dissertation process is ambitious and can only be completed with the help of others. First, foremost, and above all, I thank God and my family. Nothing is possible without them. My wife and children provided encouragement and patience throughout the protracted process of completing the dissertation.

I want to thank my fourth-grade teacher. He gave me a paperback dictionary as a reward for completing an assignment on the structure of a tooth. Inside the cover were the handwritten words, “Persistence is the key” in bright, red ink. Many years later, my fourth-grade teacher became a fellow doctoral candidate and his phone calls and encouragement reminded me of his message from 1978. In distracted times when quitting and leaving the dissertation behind was a strong possibility, his encouragement was invaluable. Thank you, Dr. James Lehman.

A special thank you to my committee chairperson, Dr. Roger Worner and committee member Dr. Kay Worner. Their guidance through the dissertation process was remarkable. Equally remarkable was the value of their coursework in the Educational Leadership program at St. Cloud State University. It shaped my practice and understanding of my role as a school leader. I am better for attending the program. To my fellow doctoral candidates at St. Cloud State University, I thank you for your support and cooperation. It was a dynamic and enthusiastic group and I was fortunate to be a part of it.

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