The Impact of Leadership Practices on Teacher Retention in Maryland Public Charter and Contract Schools

Thumbnail Image

Publication or External Link





Teacher turnover imposes a significant negative impact on the education system as a whole, much to the detriment of student achievement. The Learning Policy Institute (2021) suggests this problem was exacerbated in all school settings by the global Covid-19 pandemic in which growing disparities between children and uncertainty about the future of public education has made the teacher’s role “more untenable than ever before”. Charter and contract schools face heightened challenges in regard to this phenomenon in retaining teachers, producing a high need for leadership practices that positively curb attrition. School leadership has the potential to implement change in response to environmental changes and work conditions, thus it is a critical catalyst for retention change. An extensive review of related research revealed that leadership practices can have a significant impact on populations that Ingersoll (2004) popularized as “movers, leavers, and stayers”, though little research existed specific to Maryland’s public charter and contract schools. The purpose of this study was to determine the leadership practices that Maryland public school teachers and leaders believe positively impact retention of teachers in the state. A survey was completed by 151 educators in which participants ranked the leadership practices they believed had the most positive impact on teacher retention at their schools. Categorical and ordinal responses were analyzed and a t-test was applied to determine significance of the differences between teacher and leader responses. Two focus groups were held to better understand the context of the survey findings. Sessions were transcribed and coded via open/emergent, axial, and selective coding. Two leadership practices were ranked in the top three by the vast majority of almost every generalized group and specialized subgroup: “Nurturing a Positive School Culture'' and “Cultivating Trusting Relationships”. No other practices came close to this level of selection by participants. While teachers and leaders agreed on the two foundational practices that increase retention, there was variance in the contextual answers given by each group regarding why that practice was necessary and how to implement it well. The literature, the teachers, and the leaders all pointed to charter and contract schools being “different”- different workloads, different visions, different challenges. Yet, this study finds that, despite differences in policy and demographics, public charter and contract schools share an essential commonality with traditional public schools; they retain teachers by cultivating trusting relationships and nurturing positive school environments.