CPRE Report: Preparation in Methods, Pedagogy Linked to Teacher Retention

Preservice preparation in teaching methods and pedagogy has a notably positive effect on new teachers’ likelihood to stay past their first year on the job, according to a new report out of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE). Teachers’ routes to licensure, certificate types, degrees, and selectivity of their colleges have much less correlation with attrition, say report authors Richard Ingersoll, Lisa Merrill, and Henry May.

Analyzing data from the national Schools and Staffing Survey and supported by a National Science Foundation grant, the authors studied to what degree various elements of preservice preparation contribute to beginning teachers’ attrition or retention after 1 year in the classroom, particularly in the fields of mathematics and science. Research questions compared traditional with alternative routes, education degrees with degrees in other fields, and relative emphasis on content or pedagogical knowledge, as well as how these factors vary across different subjects.

After 1 year on the job, 12.3% of teachers in other subjects left the classroom, compared to 14.5% of math teachers and 18.2% of science teachers; after controlling for their preparation and other factors, researchers found significant influence on retention from preservice methods courses and especially from practice teaching.

Compared with first-year teachers of other subjects, beginning math teachers and particularly science teachers were less likely to have completed student teaching or to have had other clinical experiences or pedagogical course work. The report’s authors caution that the “types of preparation associated with better retention are the same types of preparation that mathematics teachers and, especially, science teachers are less likely to have.”

Studying connections between preparation pathways and teacher retention is also the focus of one of AACTE’s 2014-2015 Research Fellowships. The team of fellows at William Paterson University, Kean University, and Rowan University is looking a little farther down the road, to Year 4 of teachers’ careers, with inquiry around factors from their preparation programs that contributed to their retention in urban classrooms.

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