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How Teaching Conditions Predict Teacher Turnover in California Schools

Susanna Loeb, Linda Darling-Hammond and John Luczak
Peabody Journal of Education
Vol. 80, No. 3, Rendering School Resources More Effective: Unconventional Responses to Long-Standing Issues (2005), pp. 44-70
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3497042
Page Count: 27
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How Teaching Conditions Predict Teacher Turnover in California Schools
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Abstract

A number of studies have found that teachers are prone to leave schools serving high proportions of low-achieving, low-income, and minority students for more economically and educationally advantaged schools. In schools with very high turnover rates, this can pose a number of challenges, including lack of continuity in instruction, lack of adequate teaching expertise for making curriculum decisions and providing support and mentoring, and lost time and resources for replacement and training. If high rates of turnover are caused largely by student characteristics, then policy strategies to correct the problem are limited. However, due to data constraints, little research has sought to disentangle the effects of student demographic factors from occupational factors such as salaries and working conditions that may also influence turnover and are amenable to policy interventions. Using California teacher survey data linked to district data on salaries and staffing patterns, this study examines a range of school conditions as well as demographic factors and finds that high levels of school turnover are strongly affected by poor working conditions and low salaries, as well as by student characteristics. Although schools' racial compositions and proportions of low-income students predict teacher turnover, salaries and working conditions-including large class sizes, facilities problems, multitrack schools, and lack of textbooks-are strong and significant factors in predicting high rates of turnover. Furthermore, when these conditions are taken into account, the influence of student characteristics on turnover is substantially reduced.

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