An Analysis of Teacher Attrition in Tennessee Charter Schools
Campbell, Matthew D.
Gesualdi, Nicholas J.
Moquin, Rachel W.
The Tennessee Charter School Center (TCSC) formed in 2013 through the merger of the Tennessee Charter School Incubator and the Tennessee Charter Schools Association. The TCSC combines the functions and resources of the previous two groups by promoting education and awareness of charter schools, advancing policy and advocacy, supporting innovation and incubation of charter schools, and supporting leaders at charter schools across the state. Perhaps the largest human capital concern for these schools is the yearly movement of teachers out of the classroom. Unquestionably, some turnover is healthy for schools, but retaining higher numbers of effective teachers is a priority for all charter schools across the state. Understanding the causes and patterns of these departures will allow the TCSC to support their schools more effectively and offer the opportunity to tailor future hiring and retention practices to the unique needs of each school. In an effort to understand the current labor portrait, we explored the following project questions: 1. How do teachers at Tennessee Charter Schools rate their satisfaction regarding four common causes of teacher attrition (instructional support, compensation, school conditions, burnout)? 2. How do teacher characteristics (gender, race, age, teaching experience, educational attainment) influence teachers’ attrition plans at Tennessee Charter Schools? 3. How do variations in charter school characteristics (network CMO vs. local CMO vs. standalone school, established vs. startup, elementary vs. secondary) influence teachers’ attrition plans at Tennessee Charter Schools? 4. Within our framework, what factors predict teacher attrition at Tennessee Charter Schools? To answer these questions, we combined quantitative and qualitative data from a survey instrument that was completed by 131 charter school teachers in Memphis and Nashville across a variety of building contexts. For the first project question, we operationalized each attrition factor using existing scales and surveyed teacher opinion. For the second project question, we gathered relevant teacher characteristics from the demographic portion of our survey. For the third project question, we gathered relevant school characteristics from the introductory portion of our survey. To answer the fourth project question, we ran multiple regressions with various predictor and outcome variables. For each question we analyzed quantitative data using appropriate statistical methods to gauge significance and coded qualitative responses for themes and illustrative quotes.