Framing Novice Teacher Persistence: A Collective Case Study of Early-Career African-American Teachers in Urban Public Schools

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Sherman, Dawn Marie
Turner, Jennifer
Efforts to recruit high-quality minority teachers have proven successful over the past two decades, particularly for low-income, high-minority, and urban schools. Unfortunately, increases in minority teacher hiring have been undermined by the high turnover rates of minority teachers and novice teachers -- e.g. teachers who have less than five years of professional teaching experience. Teachers who embody both of these characteristics, novice minority teachers, are doubly disadvantaged because they experience higher turnover rates than their colleagues. As a result, low-income, high-minority, and urban schools continue to struggle to maintain teacher staffing levels for the student populations with the greatest need for quality and consistency. The purpose of the study was to explore why novice African-American teachers choose to remain in the profession after their first three years of teaching in urban school settings. Through the lens of social cognitive career theory (Lent, Brown & Hackett, 1994, 2000, 2002), the study explored novice African-American teachers’ personal characteristics and background experiences which framed their pursuit of a teaching career, identified the contextual challenges and supports which had the greatest impact on their teaching self-efficacy and outcome expectations, and examined how these teachers mitigated apparent and perceived challenges to career persistence. A qualitative collective case study design (Stake, 2005; 2006) was used to gain a deeper understanding of how novice African-American teachers’ personal characteristics, background experiences, and contextual factors proximal to teaching shaped their career self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and persistence in urban schools. This study adds the novice African-American teacher voice to existing research on novice urban teacher retention and provide a better understanding of their unique needs. The findings of this study can be used to develop targeted teacher training, recruitment and induction initiatives designed to increase the number of African-American teachers who eventually enter and sustain the urban teaching workforce.