REDUCING TEACHER ATTRITION: THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUILDING PRINCIPALS IN A LARGE URBAN DISTRICT TO SUPPORT TEACHER RETENTION
Holden, Shawna Detrice
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The high rate of teacher attrition in urban schools is well documented. While this does not seem like a problem in Carter County, this equates to hundreds of teachers that need to be replaced annually. Since school year (SY) 2007-08, Carter County has lost over 7,100 teachers, approximately half of (50.1%) of whom resigned, often going to neighboring, higher-paying jurisdictions as suggested by exit survey data (SY2016-2020 Strategic Plan). Included in this study is a range of practices principals use to retain teachers. While the role of the principal is recognized as a critical element in teacher retention, few studies explore the specific practices principals implement to retain teachers and how they use their time to accomplish this task. Through interviews, observations, document analysis and reflective notes, the study identifies the practices four elementary school principals of high and relatively low attrition schools use to support teacher retention. In doing so, the study uses a qualitative cross-case analysis approach. The researcher examined the following leadership practices of the principal and their impact on teacher retention: (a) providing leadership, (b) supporting new teachers, (c) training and mentoring teaching staff, (d) creating opportunities for collaboration, (d) creating a positive school climate, and (e) promoting teacher autonomy. The following research questions served as a foundational guide for the development and implementation of this study: 1. How do principals prioritize addressing teacher attrition or retention relative to all of their other responsibilities? How do they allocate their time to this challenge? 2. What do principals in schools with low attrition rates do to promote retention that principals in high attrition schools do not? What specific practices or interventions are principals in these two types of schools utilizing to retain teachers? Is there evidence to support their use of the practices? The findings that emerge from the data revealed the various practices principals use to influence and support teachers do not differ between the four schools.