Attracting and Retaining Teachers in High-Need Elementary Schools:



This research explored the attraction and retention of elementary school teachers in high-need schools in one southeastern state. Characteristics of successful teachers and administrators, ways to attract and retain teachers, and ways to support teachers in high-need elementary schools were investigated. Findings indicate that a successful teacher in a high-need elementary school needs to make personal sacrifices, hold high expectations, be innovative and open-minded, cooperate with administration and faculty, and be organized. Administrators should be knowledgeable of the school, students and the community. They also must have an understanding regarding teacher needs, stress levels, work demands, and workloads. It was also found that administrators can play a vital role in attracting and retaining teachers in high-need elementary schools.



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Our intent was to investigate how to attract and retain teachers in high-need schools, specifically elementary schools enrolling large proportions of students at risk for academic failure in one southeastern state. By listening to teachers who currently teach in high-need schools, we addressed these research questions: 1. What characteristics help make a teacher and an administrator successful in a high-need elementary school? 2. What strategies can be implemented to attract and retain teachers in high-need elementary schools? 3. In what ways do teachers who are currently in high-need elementary schools say that student achievement can be improved? For the purpose of this research, “high-need” is defined as “schools where the percentage of economically disadvantaged students is greater than 80% of the student population.” “Economically disadvantaged” students are children from families whose income is at or below the levels eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch, School Breakfast Programs, and/or After School Snack (North Carolina School Report Cards, 2007).
What We Know about Attracting, Supporting, and Retaining Teachers
A brief overview of the literature reveals strategies for attracting, supporting, and retaining high quality novice and experienced teachers in high-need elementary schools. We divided our literature review into two areas: sources of teacher dissatisfaction and support for teacher retention.
Sources of Teacher Dissatisfaction
Ingersoll and Smith (2003) found that almost one-third of beginning teachers left high- need schools because they were dissatisfied with their specific jobs or the teaching profession as a whole. Major sources of dissatisfaction included poor salary, student discipline problems, poor administrative support, and the lack of student motivation. Both Jimerson (2003) and Buckley, Schneider, and Shang (2005) found that the teacher shortage could be attributed to many factors; however, they point out that policy makers need to spend more money to attract and retain teachers in poorer areas. Eggen (2002) revealed four problem areas that related to teacher attrition. The most common problem according to former teachers in his study was a lack of support within the school community. These included a lack of financial support and resources, lack of mentoring for new teachers and guidance in resolving student behavioral management problems, and excessive workload requirements. Regarding the latter, teachers complained about working long hours, having a lot of extra paperwork, and being required to complete extra assignments.
Strategies to Support Teacher Retention
Several studies have suggested that school administrators should focus on increasing teacher salaries, improving administrative support, increasing student motivation and discipline, improving working conditions, encouraging collegiality, and raising teachers’ participation in the school decision-making process as ways to increase teacher retention and attraction (Berry et al., 2002; Ingersoll & Smith, 2003; Inman & Marlow, 2004; Patterson, 2005). The research literature also encouraged school districts to provide new teachers with concrete information about departmental timelines, standards and expectations; to develop an effective assessment system that provides professional development support to the new teachers; and to avoid hiring new teachers after the school year begins, or at least at the last minute (Berry et al, 2002; Patterson, 2005). Effective teacher support practices used in rural school districts include: 1) creating initiatives that identify local talent as a means to increase the pool of qualified teachers, 2) developing teacher preparation programs that prepare teachers to work in rural areas, 3) increasing pay and other incentives for teachers to work in rural areas, and 4) decreasing the work and extracurricular load of beginning teachers (Hammer et al., 2005). Buckley, Schneider, and Shang (2005) provided information on the unequal salaries of rural teachers compared with urban/suburban teachers. Along with providing rural teachers with equitable pay, their policy recommendations include increasing federal funding to support teacher recruitment strategies, providing additional incentives to attract teachers to rural areas (e.g., signing bonuses, housing incentives, loan forgiveness), encouraging rural residents to become teachers, and supporting research that focuses on needs of rural areas. In summary the research literature makes clear that there are major sources of teacher dissatisfaction such as poor salaries, student discipline problems, and lack of administrative support that cause many new teachers to leave high-need schools after their first year of teaching. We also know that strategies exist to address these sources of dissatisfaction that will lead to improved teacher retention. The challenge appears to be how to implement such strategies effectively.
To repeat from our introduction, the following research questions guided this study: 1. What characteristics help make a teacher and an administrator successful in a high-need elementary school? 2. What strategies can be implemented to attract and retain teachers in high-need elementary schools? 3. In what ways do current teachers in high-need elementary schools say that student achievement can be improved? We reasoned that this information was currently not readily available in the literature base and that it would provide a sound basis for expanding what is known about attracting and retaining teachers in all schools.
This research included a 2007 survey of elementary school teachers (n=252) in rural and urban North Carolina areas enrolling students with 80% or higher free or reduced lunch status. Of the participants, 140 (55.6%) teachers were from rural areas and 100 (39.7%) were from urban areas; twelve (4.7%) teachers did not provide this information. The majority (65%) of the teachers taught in regular K-5 classrooms, twenty-one (8%) participants did not provide this information, and 69 (27%) identified themselves as “other” area teachers (i.e. art teacher, dance teacher, music teacher, reading teacher). The experience level of participants varied. Seventy-seven (30.6%) had 0 to 5 years of experience, 51 (20.2%) had 6 to 10 years of experience, 31 (12.3%) had 11 to 15 years of experience, 25 (9.9%) had 16 to 20, 23 (9.1%) had 21 to 25, and 31 (12.3%) had 26 or more years of experience; fourteen teachers did not answer this question. Over half of the participants (n=152) held a bachelor’s degree and 86 had earned a master’s degree. Fourteen teachers did not respond. Twenty-three teachers identified themselves as National Board Certified teachers. Most teachers (n=193) were traditional education graduates, six teachers were pursuing licensure, and 38 were lateral entry graduates.
In order to gain information regarding the attraction and retention of teachers in high-need schools, an online survey questionnaire was administered to teachers currently teaching in high-need elementary schools. The random sample was drawn from all North Carolina elementary schools that have 80% or higher of their student populations receiving free or reduced lunch. Forty-seven of 188 schools were selected. In order to obtain a random sample, a random number generator was used to produce 47 numbers. The schools were numbered one to 188. These numbers were then matched to schools on an alphabetized list of all given elementary schools. Email addresses were requested from the technology directors of school systems whose school(s) appeared in the sample. The sample size was chosen to yield both a representative group of teachers and a manageable number. Two school systems, one with four schools in the sample and one with two schools in the sample, requested that a research proposal be submitted before giving the researchers access to their schools. Many technology directors referred the researchers to principals who gave permission to conduct the study at their schools and to obtain email addresses. Each teacher in the sample had a valid email address and access to the Internet. Of the 47 schools in the initial sample, 28 schools chose to participate in this study. After receiving permission and obtaining email addresses, the researchers sent an email to every classroom or resource teacher (n= 590) at the 28 elementary schools. This email included a description of the study, a request to participate, and a hyperlink to the online survey. Two weeks following this initial email, a follow-up email was sent requesting the participation of those teachers who did not respond. A second follow-up reminder email was sent a week later again requesting participation from those teachers who had not completed the survey. Of the 590 teachers who were invited to participate in this study, 252 completed the online survey yielding a 42.7% response rate.
Data Sources
This study was qualitative in nature. The survey included questions regarding demographics as well as six open-ended questions. Part one of the online survey included seven questions regarding demographics. Part two of the online survey focused on several open-ended questions: 1) List three characteristics of successful teachers in high-need elementary schools, 2) List three characteristics of successful administrators in high-need elementary schools, 3) In what ways could teacher preparation programs (i.e. colleges, universities, community colleges) prepare beginning teachers to teach in high-need elementary schools? (analyzed in a future manuscript) 4) List three ways teachers could be attracted to high-need elementary schools, and 5) List three strategies that highly qualified teachers, in high-need elementary schools, could use to improve student achievement.
Data Analysis
The open-ended questions were analyzed using the constant comparative method. This method involved evaluating data segments to reveal likenesses and differences. Sets of data were produced on a similar dimension (Merriam, 1998). Dimensions were grouped and named yielding a category. Finally, patterns or themes in the data were determined (Glaser & Straus, 1967; Merriam, 1998). Questions regarding demographics were analyzed using frequencies.
Characteristics of a successful high-need school teacher Survey respondents were asked to list characteristics of successful teachers in high-need elementary schools. Being dedicated and committed to teaching was the most frequently reported characteristic that teachers needed to be successful in a high-need elementary school. Other characteristics most frequently mentioned teachers included being caring/compassionate, flexible, patient, and understanding. Characteristics related to curriculum and instruction most frequently included having classroom/behavioral management skills, having a strong grasp of the subject matter, and using multiple teaching strategies. Respondents also said that a successful teacher needed to make personal sacrifices, hold high expectations, be innovative and open-minded, cooperate with administration and faculty, and be organized.
Respondents were asked to list characteristics of successful administrators for high-need elementary schools. Several categories were formed and the support category was the most frequently mentioned. Many types of support were included in the responses. For example, respondents said administrators needed to support teachers with classroom discipline issues, to financially support teachers by sending them to professional development conferences or purchasing materials for their classrooms, to motivate teachers, and to provide moral support for the faculty and staff. Knowledgeable Administrators Respondents also revealed that administrators should be knowledgeable—knowledgeable about curriculum issues, current research, the whole child, what goes on in the classroom, and school related policies. Respondents said that administrators should have knowledge about the local community including the needs of the children and parents in low socio-economic status (SES) areas. Administrators also must have an understanding regarding teacher needs, stress levels, work demands, and workloads.
Administrator Visibility
Another recurring theme was visibility. It was important to the respondents that the administrators were visible in the school and in the community. Respondents defined visibility as frequent face-to-face contact with students, parents and the community, as well as regular staff communication. Possessing leadership skills and leadership characteristics was another category that appeared during the analysis. Respondents stated that administrators should have particular leadership skills including being organized, being able to control discipline, being a good listener, being professional, and being a risk taker. Many characteristics of an effective leader were also listed: consistent, fair, flexible, sensitive, dedicated, and open-minded.
Building Working Relationships
The next category was building working relationships. Respondents thought administrators at high-need elementary schools should build good working relationships with students, staff, and parents. High-need elementary school administrators also needed to promote collaborative relationships, especially with the community, including having an interest in and passion for low SES students. Respondents also mentioned that administrators should garner support and funds for the school and be respected by the community. Finally, setting high and clear expectations for staff and student performance and having a clear school vision with positive goals and concrete objectives was another requirement for administrators.
Attracting Teachers to High-Need Schools
Survey respondents were asked to list ways that new or experienced teachers could be attracted to high-need elementary schools. The most frequently mentioned categories included financial incentives, supportive administration, competent mentor support, smaller class size, and a desire to make a difference.
Financial Incentives
Respondents listed financial incentives most frequently. This category included bonus money, higher salaries, merit pay, money for advanced degrees, benefits, early retirement, signing bonuses, student loan repayments, and supplements to live and work in high-need elementary communities. In the words of one respondent, “these incentives would entice highly qualified teachers to move to a high-need elementary school and give them the financial stability to stay there.”
Supportive Administration
Respondents believed that a supportive principal and administration were vital in making high-need elementary schools true learning communities. They wanted principals to allow for flexible scheduling and smaller groupings, to provide needed materials and supplies, to show respect for educational decisions, and to care about the struggling students. Respondents wanted a flexible schedule with more planning time built into the day and the principal’s support in scheduling common planning times with colleagues. Additionally, teachers at high-need elementary schools wanted the principal to secure highly qualified mentors and to schedule quality professional development for the faculty and staff. They wanted the principal to be a positive voice for the school, families, and community. Respondents mentioned that principals should, “sell the students”, not the school to teachers who really want to make a difference.
Professional Support
Professional support was mentioned as the third most frequent category. Experienced teachers may be more committed to a particular residential area and may not consider moving. Whereas novice teachers may have more flexibility and consider moving to a high-need area for employment. If this happens, mentors with expertise in dealing with challenging students and demanding curricula must be hired to build the support base that the teachers need. Respondents wanted time built into the schedule for frequent visits with mentors to observe strategies that could be modeled and practiced. Respondents thought that these mentors might also provide professional development opportunities in effective curricula and instructional practices with intensive focus on student achievement. Three additional categories were formed in fewer numbers. These included reducing class size, appealing to teachers’ dedication to the profession and the challenge to make a difference, and providing full time teacher assistants. Several other suggestions included removing the No Child Left Behind mandates and high stakes testing programs, cutting out all extra-curricular activities, and requiring new teachers to serve from one to three years in a high-need elementary school. One suggestion that is growing in popularity was that schools search for “home-grown” educators to fill the classrooms since they know the community and the students.
Retaining Teachers in High-Need Schools
Survey respondents were asked to list strategies that principals could employ to retain Initially Licensed Teachers (ILTs) in high-need elementary schools. Three categories were formed from the responses. These included principal support in many forms, professional development and mentoring, and financial incentives. In some cases, both strategies from a respondent fit into a single category, that is, both responses were versions of providing qualified mentors and of identifying principal support strategies.
Principal Support
Principal support was the largest category and included a variety of ways highly effective administrators help teachers in any school. These included actively assisting teachers with discipline and parental issues, listening to and supplying needed resources, being flexible with scheduling, and being visible and available to new teachers. Some respondents suggested that extra planning time and reasonable duties should be considered as well as constant communication to build teamwork, skill, and confidence. Other respondents suggested presenting clear expectations of what is expected including frequent feedback on lessons, units, classroom management, and working conditions. Finally, numerous respondents mentioned that principals need to show respect for the new teachers as they begin their careers in a high-need elementary school.
Qualified Mentors
The second most frequently mentioned category of strategies that principals could use was to provide qualified mentors for the new teacher. Respondents suggested that these mentors should be highly qualified and have experience teaching in high-need elementary schools. “Do not leave them stranded” was one comment that mirrored many others which included providing ample time for the teacher and mentor to meet and time for the ILT to observe successful classroom activities, management strategies, and discipline plans in a high-need setting. Several respondents mentioned that the mentoring programs should be closely monitored suggesting that some mentors were less than helpful to the new teachers. One respondent strongly recommended that only caring, nurturing, and professional mentors be chosen for this important job.
Quality Professional Development
In addition to effective mentoring, respondents suggested that principals provide frequent, sustained, high quality professional development for the ILT in the high-need elementary school. They suggested professional development in the many duties and expectations of a new teacher, in improving content knowledge, and in working with special needs students. One respondent suggested “New to the School 101”, a class to help familiarize ILTs with the school’s faculty, culture, and unwritten rules – the “ropes.” Financial and other incentives again appeared as a strategy that administrators could use. These included swap time, money for classroom supplies, funds for college classes and professional development activities, and flexible makeup time for sick days. They also mentioned providing breakfasts or lunches on workdays or other small gestures of appreciation. Eight respondents said smaller class size is a strategy that principals could use to retain Initially Licensed Teachers in high-need elementary schools.
Retaining Highly Qualified Teachers
Additionally, survey respondents were asked to list three strategies to aid in the retention of highly qualified teachers. In congruence with the previous two questions, four basic categories of responses were formed. These were financial and other incentives, support from principals and administration, high quality professional support, and smaller class size.
Financial Incentives
Once again, financial incentives were mentioned most often as a way that highly qualified teachers could be retained at high-need elementary schools. The responses included higher pay, bonuses, support with college tuition to further their education, and money for staff development opportunities. Supportive principals and administration also appear to be a critical component for retaining experienced teachers. This support included reducing paperwork and distractions, providing adequate materials and supplies, showing respect, and providing plenty of planning time. Help with discipline and parents was also mentioned, as well as an array of non-monetary incentives such as state-of-the-art computer hardware and training and freedom to create curricula for their students. One respondent stated, “Put the best administrators in high-need elementary schools.” Experienced teachers valued professional development that was “accurately tailored to meet the needs of students in this setting.” Collaboration was seen as important for teachers if they wanted to become National Board Certified or develop new programs. Several teachers mentioned a collaborative culture where teachers worked together to discover “what works in this community with these particular students.” Planning time with colleagues in the same discipline or with the same grade level was listed as well. Finally, respondents were asked how many years they had been at their high-need elementary school. Almost 60% of the surveyed teachers have worked at their high-need elementary school for 0 to 5 years and three-fourths of the respondents (76%) have worked at their high-need school for 10 or less years. When survey respondents were asked whether they would remain at their current schools, 53% (n=134) said they would, while 39% (n=98) said they would not. Twenty participants did not answer this question. Teachers gave various reasons for choosing to stay in high-need elementary schools. These reasons included the love of the job, the school, the students, and the colleagues. They also reported supportive administration, convenience of school location, and the need to make a difference in their students’ lives. Retirement, relocation, unsupportive administration, increasing job demands, and low pay were reasons given for leaving their current teaching job in a high-need elementary school.
Improving Student Achievement
Next, respondents were asked to list strategies that teachers in high-need elementary schools could use to improve student achievement. Using effective teaching strategies was listed most often. The teachers believed that through the use of valuable teaching strategies in high-need elementary schools, student achievement could be increased. Respondents also mentioned that having knowledge of the students and being supportive of them could also help increase achievement. Furthermore, classroom management, adequate teacher resources and family involvement were additional ways considered by the teacher respondents as strategies for improving student achievement.
Discussion: Characteristics of a successful high-need school teacher
Teachers reported that successful teachers in high-need elementary schools need to be dedicated, patient, loving/caring, flexible, and possess classroom management skills. The majority of the respondents said they wanted administrators from high-need schools to have support systems in place, have the ability to communicate, and have knowledge of policies, research, the local community, and the curriculum. When hiring new principals for high-need schools, school systems should consider candidates for the job that possess these qualities. School systems need to give priority to candidates who have prior successful experience either teaching at a high-need school or serving in an administrative role at a high-need school. Many of these successful teachers and administrators exist, so why is it difficult to keep this type of person in a high-need school? As the findings suggested, schools must offer a combination of financial incentives and other support to teachers. State legislatures are key in making this important request a reality. Many states are currently offering signing bonuses, reimbursement for college courses, local supplements, and monies for professional conferences and other professional development experiences. Areas with high-need schools must consider offering signing bonuses to the teachers who accept jobs in these schools. Teachers should be offered financial incentives to stay on the job for a given period of time. Teachers needed daily planning time, meaningful staff development, and supportive administration to increase in their job satisfaction. Principals have control in making these types of decisions. They need to give their teachers a daily planning time that is dedicated to instructional planning and not used for meetings or duties. Furthermore, principals should give teachers a voice in choosing staff development that is meaningful to them and aligns with school’s stated goals. Improving Student Achievement in High-need Schools Participants were also asked to list strategies that highly qualified teachers in high-need elementary schools could use to improve student achievement. Survey respondents reported the following ideas: eliciting effective classroom management, employing best teaching practices, maintaining knowledge and support of students, obtaining resources for the classroom, and involving parents/guardians in the students’ education. Teachers who are new to a high-need school must be paired with a mentor teacher that has experience in a high-need school. Mentors can assist new teachers to improve on the areas mentioned. Administrators need to be cognizant of these ideas in order to make these abovementioned strategies top priorities in their high-need schools. What strategies are effective to use when working in a high-need school? Many teachers have not been trained to teach in this type of environment. Teachers need to be trained in effective teaching strategies. This could be achieved by offering the teachers in the schools appropriate professional development to meet the needs of their schools and their students. This development needs to be ongoing with frequent follow-up regarding student progress.
Attracting Teachers to High-need Schools
Six basic areas emerged from the survey where steps might be taken that would help to attract and retain new and experienced in high-need elementary schools. These categories included financial incentives, supportive administration, mentor support, smaller class size, a desire to make a difference, and a full-time assistant. Many of these findings require some type of financial support. As a result, the researchers challenge policymakers to fund these items in order for high-need schools to have an equal opportunity for teacher retention and attraction. According to docketing information in the landmark case, Leandro v. The State of North Carolina, teacher quality was one of the many inequities cited between poor and wealthy schools districts: Plaintiffs complain of inadequate school facilities with insufficient space, poor lighting, leaking roofs, erratic heating and air conditioning, peeling paint, cracked plaster, and rusting exposed pipes. They allege that their poor districts' media centers have sparse and outdated book collections and lack the technology present in the wealthier school districts. They complain that they are unable to compete for high quality teachers because local salary supplements in their poor districts are well below those provided in wealthy districts. Plaintiffs allege that this relative inability to hire teachers causes the number of students per teacher to be higher in their poor districts than in wealthy districts. (NC Administrative Office of the Courts, 1997).
Are They Staying?
Finally, a majority of teachers (n=149) mentioned that they had taught at their current school five years or less. This could indicate high turnover. Three-fourths of the respondents (76%) have worked at their high-need elementary school for 10 years or less, possibly signifying that veteran and more experienced teachers are not teaching as often in high-need elementary schools. Teachers were asked whether they would remain at their current schools. One hundred thirty-four respondents said they would remain while 98 said they would not. If the stated reasons for leaving, retirement, relocation, unsupportive administration, increasing job demands, and low pay, are addressed quickly, then school districts could avoid or circumvent the foreseeable turnover of ninety-eight North Carolina elementary teachers in these high-need schools.
Innovative Ideas from Teachers
Several ideas were mentioned from teachers that add to the knowledge base for high-need schools. These ideas did not occur frequently enough to warrant the creation of a separate category, however, these ideas need to be considered. A significant consideration that came out of this study was community. Teachers need to know and understand their students. Many teachers who teach in high-need schools have not lived the lives that their students have led making it difficult for them to understand the needs of their students. Having the knowledge and experience about students’ community could help teachers be more effective in the classroom. Therefore, if teachers become involved in the community, they will have a better opportunity to understand the backgrounds of their students. This could help them better meet the needs of their students. Teachers also felt that professional development specifically centered on best practices in high-need schools could be quite beneficial for them and their students. It would be helpful if the person conducting the workshop was familiar with the community. This would help to better serve the needs of the students. Teachers pointed out that their administrators were very important in creating a positive learning environment for students. They felt that it was essential for administrators to become actively involved in the community. In doing this, administrators would learn more about students’ backgrounds. They would see the real lives of students. Knowing what occurs for students before 7:00 a.m. and after 3:00 p.m. would be beneficial so administrators could assist teachers with student issues and ensure the best education possible.
This manuscript is well-timed. According to the U.S. Department of Education, a third of teachers leave the teaching profession during the first three years and nearly half leave after five years. In schools serving low-income communities, the rate is higher. Teacher retention must be addressed to offset the revolving-door phenomenon (Holt & Garcia, 2005). This research study illustrates the importance of attracting and retaining teachers in high-need schools. Recent studies have focused on staffing high-poverty schools with quality teachers (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Ingersoll, 2004). Several studies also indicate that these teachers want materials and resources, salary incentives, a strong leader, a voice in curricular decisions, and a collegial support system (Berry & King, 2005; Hirsh, 2006; Berry & Darling-Hammond, 2006). The authors know the value of keeping quality teachers in the most challenging positions. It is important that children in high-need schools have equal access to high quality teachers and equal access to high quality education. This research looked from “within,” toward the organization, in this case, the public school, and asked teachers who currently teach in high-need elementary schools their perspectives on the retention and attraction of colleagues. We close with the words of a frustrated elementary school teacher in a high-need school in North Carolina whose views reflect the tensions teachers express which impact teacher retention. Our research suggests that teacher voices must be heard in the national movement to improve teaching, if teacher retention is also to improve, as a means of closing the achievement gap in high-need schools: As a teacher with 26 years of experience (at the end of this year) I can tell you exactly why there is a shortage and what needs to be done in short order and without a survey. It is simply this: Teachers in North Carolina have been made the scapegoats for almost every problem in the schools. The EOG testing program places the blame squarely on teachers for poor student performance, even when, in most cases, it is not the teacher who is at fault. There have been too many times in my experience when I have seen teachers driven almost to the brink by discipline problems in which they were given ineffective support from administrators who were unwilling for some reason, to render the appropriate punishment. The situations were allowed to go on, and after awhile, the teacher moved on too. Teachers have to attend grade level meetings, PTO meetings, School Improvement meetings, faculty meetings, training meetings for giving tests, meetings with parents, workshops (some even held on Saturdays) and even take work home all with little or no payment for their efforts. Even factory workers get overtime pay. Teachers get no compensatory time, no help with tuition, in most cases, if they wish to pursue a higher degree to increase their expertise it is at their own expense, and teaching salaries are still way too low for all we are asked to do and are held responsible for. Then we have the North Carolina ABC's and the No Child Left Behind Act which each have their own special persecutions for teachers, requiring children to perform at higher and higher levels each time they are tested and punishing the teacher if the child doesn't make it. Never mind that the children in question may be poverty ridden, have no support at home, may not even understand English well, have a mental disability, learning disability, are emotionally disturbed, or barely able to hold their heads up due to some physical or mental condition. The blame is always placed on the teacher who is then required to do a workshop or some kind of extra training to "fix" whatever is wrong with that teacher which caused him or her to let that child fail. Now can you imagine why anyone in their right mind would sign up for this abuse? Those of us who have too much time in are just trying to survive until retirement and those just going into the profession in which they are treated like anything but a professional, leave as soon as they can. Now those are just a few of the reasons why there is a teacher shortage in North Carolina. Should those in power ever wake up and realize the need to change these problems the shortage will continue. What they really need to do is teach for awhile under the same conditions that have been imposed on us. There is nothing like experience in order to learn. (Third grade North Carolina teacher response, 2007 high-need school survey.)
Recommendations for Continued Research
After conducting this research, several ideas for continued research emerge. A comparison of rural and urban high-need schools would be interesting. It would be beneficial to take the existing data, sort it for rural and urban schools, and analyze to determine similarities and differences. Another idea for future research is a follow up study with a sample of the participants to ask more in-depth questions regarding their responses and listening to middle school and high school high-need teachers. Finally, exploring the idea of best practices to determine what teachers regard as best practices and how beginning teachers could acquire those best practices would add to the literature base.
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Petty, Teresa M.

Teresa Petty

Teresa M. Petty is an assistant professor in the Department of Middle, Secondary, and K-12 Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her interests include teacher attraction, teacher retention, asynchronous audio feedback in online environments, and mathematics education. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses including technology integration and instructional design.

O'Connor, Katherine A.

Katherine  A. O'Connor

Katherine A. O’Connor is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Her interests include teacher retention, social studies advocacy, and purposeful technology integration. She teaches action research, gifted education, social studies, and elementary curriculum and instruction courses. She works with graduate students and preservice teacher candidates in the area of elementary education.

Dagenhart, Diana B.

Diana Dagenhart

Diana B. Dagenhart teaches sixth grade in Catawba, North Carolina. She has worked as a public school classroom teacher for over twenty-five years. She has obtained her National Board certification and her doctorate degree. Her areas of specialty include middle school science and mathematics. Her research interests include teacher quality, teacher retention, effective teaching strategies, and issues regarding National Board certification.