NAAC recently published the results of a study that explored retention of new teachers from alternative certification programs. The research found retention rates of 92% for one cohort studied, based on the number of program completers who initially began teaching in 2011-12 and were still teaching three years later. The study found retention rates of 83% for another cohort of program completers that began teaching in 2010-11 and were still teaching three years later. The results were published December 6 in the Fall issue of the Journal of the National Association for Alternative Certification. The article, “Alternative Certification Teacher and Candidate Retention: Measures of Educator Preparation, Certification and School Staffing Effectiveness,” was authored by Michelle Haj-Broussard, Tom Hall, Sheila Allen, Cyndy Stephens, Vickie Person, and Tina Johnson.
The Cohort 1 sample was drawn from 32 programs in 15 states and included 1,329 teacher candidates. Of those, 1,125 (85%) of program completers were initially employed as teachers of record upon completion of their program. Three years later, 937 were still teaching, representing a retention rate of 83%. When the researchers included all program completers (including those who were not initially employed upon completion) the retention rate was somewhat lower – 78%. The Cohort 2 sample was drawn from 25 programs in 15 states and included 634 teacher candidates. Of those, 504 (79%) of program completers were initially employed as teachers of record upon completion of their program. Three years later, 466 were still teaching, representing an impressive retention rate of 92%. Again, when the researchers included all program completers from the cohort, the retention rate was somewhat lower at 74%.
At the beginning of the 21st century the news about teacher attrition was grim. Frequently cited research from Richard Ingersoll found that one third of all teachers were leaving the profession during their first 3 years, and half would leave within 5 years.1 Linda Darling-Hammond found new teacher turnover to be even higher, up to 40% in Texas in the first three years of teaching.2 NAAC’s retention study of teachers completing alternative certification programs in 2010 and later indicates this trend in attrition may be reversing. The authors note that their findings are consistent with other recent studies. For example, a white paper from iTeachU.S., one of the largest alternative certification programs in Texas, indicates that of their cohort of 1,359 individuals who were certified through iTeach and began teaching in public schools in 2008-09, 86% were still teaching three years later.3 Further, a study of Georgia’s alternative certification (Transition to Teaching) programs, published in the Journal of the National Association for Alternative Certification in 2015, documented three year retention rates of new teachers who began in 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12, respectively, of 86%,90%, and 94%. 4 Each of the three cohorts studied in Georgia had at least 99 teacher candidates.
The NAAC retention study was initiated by the National Association for Alternative Certification (NAAC) in 2013-14 and the authors are all current or past members of the NAAC board of directors. The study can be found at www.jnaac.com.
1 Ingersoll, R. (2001). Teacher turnover and teacher shortages. American Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 499-534.
2 Darling-Hammond, L. (2003). Keeping good teachers: Why it Matters, what leaders can do. Educational Leadership, 60(8), 6-13.
3 iTeachU.S. (2013). iTeachU.S.: A Retention Study. Denton, TX: Author.
4 Cobia, D.C., Stephens, C.E., & Sherer, G. (2015). FOCUS: A State-wide Initiative to Select and Retain Transition Teachers. Journal of the National Association for Alternative Certification, 10(2), 17-31.