America Reads-Mississippi Future Teacher Corps: A study of program completers' perception of factors influencing the decision to become and remain classroom teachers
Despite the number of programs in Mississippi that focus on developing and training teachers, the State continues to face a critical teacher shortage. This non-experimental, ex-post facto, quantitative study investigated the America Reads- Mississippi (ARM) Future Teacher Corps (FTC) program, an AmeriCorps program in Mississippi with a mission to improve the reading skills of students, encourage public awareness, support literacy, and help increase the number of certified teachers in Mississippi. FTC, a sub-corps of ARM, was created in 2007 to address teacher shortages through structured community education and teacher-specific training, with the goal of increasing the number of certified teachers in Mississippi. The purpose of this study was to assess the intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors influencing the decision of FTC completers to become licensed teachers in the state of Mississippi. In addition, intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors, job satisfaction factors and social networks that influenced retention as perceived by FTC completers who worked for a minimum of one year were assessed while determining if a relationship existed between these factors. FTC participants who completed the program in 2009 and 2010 were the targeted population for this study. Ninety-two FTC completers were identified and contacted to participate in the study with 39 responding. Fifty-six percent, over half, (n =22) of FTC completers indicated they plan to make teaching a career and teach for longer than 15 years. Three out of four respondents (n =29; 74.3%) plan to remain in teaching more than five years. Ninety-one percent of FTC completers have remained in the classroom for at least one year. Of the 13 completers who have taught for at least two years, 12 (92%) have remained in the classroom which indicates a higher retention rate than the rates for Mississippi teachers in general. The top three reasons for becoming a teacher and remaining in the classroom for at least one year were identified as the desire to work with young people, interest in the subject matter, and the value or significance of education in society. A positive relationship was found between retention and the motivational factor never really considered anything else (r =.692, p =.001). A positive relationship also exists between retention and the motivational factor one of the few professions open to me (r =.672, p =.002). Finally the relationship between participation in Future Teacher Corps (r =.608, p =.007) was positive. Thus among FTC completers who have worked a minimum of one year, higher scores on motivation factors and social network are related to a higher number of years to continue to teach. No significant correlations were found between job satisfaction factors and retention.