Date of Award:

12-2018

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Education

Advisor/Chair:

Ryan Knowles

Abstract

Teacher recruitment and retention is a problem of perpetual concern among education policymakers. High rates of teacher attrition, particularly within the first few years of a teacher’s service have been of particular concern. It is believed that persistent teacher shortages contribute both to underperformance of students generally, as well as to achievement gaps between students of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds. The importance of this issue has led to a great deal of research in the field, which has found that there are a large number of factors that influence the desirability of schools to teachers. What is still unclear from this research is how much these different factors matter relative to one another and to salary.

This study aimed to address this gap in the literature by introducing a new survey methodology to the field that allows for quantification of the extent to which various working conditions factors matter to teachers. A survey was distributed to all secondary teachers in the state of Utah where respondents were asked to choose between hypothetical school choices that varied on salary and certain nonmonetary factors. Periodically, respondents were asked to answer open-ended questions explaining their responses. The results of this survey allow for an estimate for each individual of how much salary and each of the working conditions influenced the decisions that they made. These results were analyzed for trends with respect to teacher demographics and contextual factors and were compared to the responses teachers gave to the open-ended questions.

This study resulted in a number of practical recommendations for school administrators, policymakers, and fellow researchers. For practitioners, there are results from this study that generate clear recommendations for using limited resources to make schools more desirable to teachers. The results of this study also provide estimates for how much additional salary is needed to entice teachers to work in schools that traditionally struggle to recruit and retain high quality teachers. For researchers, this study provides a model that can be replicated in additional contexts to answer these important practical questions. The study also opens up avenues of future research including new methodological questions worthy of further investigation. By introducing a new survey methodology to this well-developed field of research, this study aims to recommend a new tool for use by researchers in addressing the persistent challenge of teacher recruitment and retention.

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