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Teacher Turnover: Models

Retention and attrition models may be divided into economic and socialization models. Economic models were extensive throughout the literature, many times focused on teacher salaries. Therefore, this section groups the economic models together as well as separately presents socialization conceptualization models. The section ends with a description of Billingsley’s model (1993), which combined economic and social factors into a single model.

Economic models.

Studies in the 1960s focused on economic models. Holtmann (1969) developed an economic model using the principle of equal net advantage; an individual enters teaching unless the advantage to entering another occupation is equal or greater. The model builds on the first publications of primary and secondary teachers’ salaries, sexes, ages, and educations. Brewer (1996) developed a model incorporating a teacher’s decision to enter administration. Stinebrickner (2001) suggested a discrete-choice model, incorporating teacher wages and personal factors. Willett and Singer (1991) introduced principles in survival analysis, event history analysis, and hazards models rather than attrition. Several researchers described teacher migration and attrition using economic constructs (e.g., Lortie, 2002). Attrition cost studies used an economic construct (e.g., Alliance for Excellent Education, 2004; Benner, 2000; Cavanagh, 2005; Schockley, 2006) as well as competing risks studies based on an economic theme (e.g., Dolton & van der Klaauw, 1999).

Socialization models.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, models and studies expanded to include social aspects of teaching (e.g., Billingsley, 1993). Bluedorn (1982) integrated three models, developed around causal models, organizational commitment, and linking job satisfaction with turnover. Chapman and Green (1986) included teacher attrition grounded in social learning theory; that is, teacher retention is a function of six factors grouped as (a) teacher personal characteristics, (b) a teacher’s preparation, (c) initial commitment to teaching, (d) quality of first teaching experience, (e) socialization process, and (f) external influences. Boe (1990) developed the Comprehensive Retention and Attrition Model (CRAM). This model included teacher characteristics (e.g., qualifications, age, and marital status) and teacher mobility.

Dinham and Scott (1998) extended Herzberg’s job satisfaction-dissatisfaction model using a 75-item survey. The third domain incorporated into the model was composed of school-based factors. Murnane (1984) argued for self-selection of teachers, assuming less productive teachers leave. Steffy and Wolfe (2001) suggested a development model based on six stages of career development: Novice, Apprentice, Professional, Expert, Distinguished, and Emeritus phases. Teachers who move through the stages use reflection-renewal-growth cycle remain in teaching. Kirby and Grissmer (1993) distinguished between temporary and permanent attrition, ultimately suggesting attrition was an indicator of salary and working conditions. This model argued national-level research does not require a concern over teacher migration; however, local and district research must account for teacher mobility. Brownell and Smith (as cited in Billingsley, 2004) provided an alternative conceptual model, based on an adaptation of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, dividing factors into four categories: microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem.

Lortie (2002) described a teacher’s first year of socialization as learning-while doing or a sink or swim process (p. 60). Several researchers attempted to frame studies around a principal’s influence on a beginning teacher’s socialization process (e.g., Angelle, 2006; Brock & Grady, 1998; Youngs, 2007). The central premise was that principals are responsible for setting the school culture, thus influencing a beginning teacher’s socialization process.

Billingsley (1993) suggested three major factors influence teacher retention: personal factors, external factors, and employment factors. The personal factors of the model are the demographic, family, and affective portions of a teacher’s career decision. The external factors include societal, economic, and institutional variables. Employment factors are professional qualifications, work conditions, and commitment. Employment factors such as unsupportive administrators may lead to a teacher’s decision to leave the school (e.g., teacher transfer or quit) or a teacher’s intent to stay. Billingsley’s conceptual model is the initial basis of grouping the research on teacher retention studies and a basis for the comparison of different approaches.