WHY DO THEY STAY? A STUDY OF HIGH SCHOOL MATH AND SCIENCE TEACHERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF WORKING CONDITION FACTORS IN A LARGE URBAN SCHOOL DISTRICT
Laney, Nathaniel Richard
Richardson, Patricia M
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In most U.S. school districts, a number of teachers are leaving the profession, and more specifically, math and science teachers. Moreover, school work conditions are important predictors of teacher attrition and it is important to understand both when and how these conditions affect teachers. The purpose of this mixed methods study design was to explore the extent high school mathematics and science teachers perceive the importance of specific working conditions and the principals control level in a large, urban, mid-Atlantic school district. Using purposive sampling the quantitative data collected used an anonymous web based survey distributed to 246 high school math and science teachers at eight high schools while using six items to collect background information (gender, ethnicity, years of teaching experience, certification status, current position, and grade level currently being taught). The qualitative data collected were face-to-face interviews with the eight high school principals for augmenting the survey data with layered and detailed expressions specifically pertaining to teacher retention. The results of the study indicate; teachers perceive pedagogical matters as the most important factors to teacher retention and that principals have a high level of control over the physical plant of a school as a working condition factor that may influence retention. In contrast, the principal identified that they have little to no influence on the physical plant and that it could be a factor to teacher retention for their specific school. However, all of the principals identified professional development and support as working condition factors that were important to teacher retention and that the responsibility was completely under their purview.