Retaining urban middle school teachers: An investigation of influencing factors
President William Jefferson Clinton is often credited with beginning a new era of improving teacher quality. Since the late 1990's, the federal government has presented a number of reforms that have encouraged states to develop methods to address the revolving door of teachers entering and exiting schools yearly. Retaining teachers has been documented as a historical problem, specifically at the urban middle school level where the most at-risk students need and deserve more stability and effectively trained teachers. Students at-risk of failing need a high-quality teacher in order to attain high standards and graduate with the necessary skills to succeed in the workforce or in college classes (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2005). A great team of teachers is needed to make a school successful (Rhee & Levin, 2006). The purpose of this study was to seek the factors that teachers perceive as important when contemplating whether to remain employed in an urban middle school. In addition, the study examined the relationship between gender, ethnicity, experience and educational level of the teacher, to determine if any of those factors significantly impacted the teacher's decision to remain in a teaching position. The subjects within this study were middle school teachers in an urban school district located in a suburban county of Metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, with an estimated student population of approximately 100,000. The quantitative research instrument used to gather data for this study was a Likert Survey designed to acquire information about factors significant to teacher retention as perceived by the teacher. The responses of 194 teachers were reviewed. Data analysis showed that certain factors significantly affected the decision of those teachers to remain employed within their current position. The data revealed significant relationships between gender and job conditions, education and job conditions, and ethnicity and environment when teachers are determining to remain in their current position. The significant relationships discovered by the researcher could prompt future studies to improve student achievement while increasing teacher retention in the urban middle school.