A five-year longitudinal study of teacher survival among teacher-education graduates of Montana State University
Steadman, Richard John
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The primary focus of this study was on two aspects of teacher turnover. The study sought to find if nineteen demographic and performance variables gathered prior to graduation could predict the career decisions of graduates of a teacher-education class five years following their graduation. Also, the rate at which beginning teachers among the study sample left teaching was compared with rates found in other comparable studies. The study sample included all teacher-education graduates from Montana State University in 1979. Prior to graduation each subject completed a questionnaire and Allport-Vernon Study of Values. Measures of intelligence, achievement, and student teaching performance were gathered. Each year for five years immediately following their graduation, subjects were contacted and asked to provide information about their present careers, geographic locations, and reasons for any career change. After the fifth yearly contact, subjects were divided into employment categories based on whether they were currently teaching, had taught but were no longer teaching, or had never taught. Nineteen variables were analyzed using One-Way Analysis of Variance and Chi Square Test of Independence. In addition, Chi Square Goodness of Fit was used to compare the turnover rates among teachers in this study and in each of four other comparable teacher turnover studies. Two of the nineteen pre-employment variables were found to be significant at the .05 level. There was no significant difference in the rate at which beginning teachers in this study left teaching and the rates at which beginning teachers in four other studies left teaching. The study concluded with narrative descriptions of careers pursued by subjects outside of teaching, reasons given by subjects for leaving teaching, and the geographic distribution of graduates five years after graduation. Two major conclusions can be drawn from this study. First, preemployment characteristics and experiences by themselves cannot predict an individual's career pattern. Lifetime experiences play a major role in the process and must be examined in conjunction with pre-employment variables to understand career decisions. Second, the rate at which teachers leave teaching is constant over time, job market condition, and geographic location.