The problem of high teacher turnover, especially for students attending schools in low-income, high-minority neighborhoods, has been well documented. The problem is particularly severe in math and science, where teachers qualified in these disciplines are in increasingly short supply statewide. A new study initiated at Cal State East Bay has found that providing middle school science teachers with professional development can have a significant effect on teacher retention, even in challenging settings. While teachers with no professional development showed only a 60% chance of retention on average, teachers provided with over 20 hours showed an 85% chance of staying with their students. The study indicated that the Professional Development strengthened teachers’ professional identity as well as their knowledge, which increased their sense of effectiveness and excitement in the classroom. “I feel like the Professional Development I’ve had in the last few years has been effective, and I was able to use it in my classroom. So that definitely makes me feel more dedicated and more enthusiastic [about] staying in science . . .” noted one study participant. The Relationship Between Professional Development and Teacher Retention: A Mixed Methods Study, was conducted by CSUEB Education Leadership Professor Kathryn Hayes in collaboration with Linda Preminger, a local middle school teacher, graduate student Vanessia Tran, and Christine Lee Bae, a former CSUEB Post-Doctoral Researcher. This study, submitted for presentation at the annual American Education Research Conference, is an example of the innovative research conducted by our faculty in service to the mission of the Institute for STEM Education, to better prepare students in our community for success in STEM and to help them develop the knowledge necessary to function as engaged and informed citizens.
Read the full study here.