What Makes Public School Teachers Stay, Leave or become Non-teachers? An In-depth Understanding of their Personal Characteristics, Beliefs and Perceptions




Mittapalli, Kavita

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The purpose of this study was to analyze public school teachers' personal characteristics, beliefs, and perceptions leading to their decision to either leave or stay in teaching. The study differentiated three groups of public school teachers—Leavers (who leave teaching entirely), Non-teaching educators (who take jobs within the education system), and Stayers (who remain in teaching) using the NCES dataset Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B) 1993/2003. Low pay was considered one of the major reasons for leaving teaching by Leavers, while getting a job within education was the main reason for Nonteaching educators to leave teaching. Student's t-tests results suggested that higher ability individuals (with higher GPAs) were more likely to leave teaching. A majority of Leavers opened their own business/self-employed in addition to joining the non-education related business/private/professional industry. Among Non-teaching educators, school counseling was the major non-teaching position. ANOVAs were conducted to compare various aspects of current job satisfaction among the three groups. Overall, compared to Leavers and Non-teaching educators, Stayers were more satisfied with their current job/position in several aspects of their current job such as— fringe benefits, challenge of work, further education. Finally, beliefs and perceptions regarding staying and being satisfied with teaching for the Stayers were analyzed using ANOVAs and decision tree prediction models. Stayers were likely to stay and be satisfied with their professions when they had autonomy running the classroom, student discipline and class size were not a problem, when they received support from parents and students had motivation to learn in class. Decision tree models showed that younger teachers were more likely to be satisfied than older teachers with student motivation and support from parents. The study findings are useful to inform researchers, policymakers and administrators to weigh in competing policies regarding issues of teacher turnover, attrition, and retention.



Teacher Leavers, Stayers, Non-teaching educators, Beliefs, Retention, Perceptions