Should I Stay or Should I Go?
In recent decades, the plight of early career teacher turnover has had significant financial ramifications for our nation’s schools and has posed a serious threat to achieving educational equity, with the most disadvantaged schools experiencing the highest rates of turnover. Using data collected from the Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Survey, this study employed discrete-time competing risks survival analysis to explore the first-year experiences of public middle and high school teachers as predictors of their career decisions to stay in their current school, move to a new school, or leave the profession across the first five years of their career. Four facets were conceived as characterizing teachers’ first-year experiences: 1) policies and programs for first-year teachers provided by the administration including mentoring and induction, 2) perceptions of their preparedness to teach, 3) perceptions of school climate and workplace conditions, and 4) satisfaction with teaching. The research questions are: 1. What are the first-year experiences for teachers in the sample and how do they compare between teachers who are retained in their first school placements and teachers who voluntarily or involuntarily turn over in later years? 2. What first-year teacher experiences predict voluntary and involuntary turnover at the end of years 1, 2, 3, and 4? And, how does satisfaction with teaching in the first year interact with the three other facets of the first-year experience to predict voluntary and involuntary turnover across the early career window? Findings suggest there may be differences in the mechanisms that drive the moving and leaving phenomena, suggesting that policymakers treat the two turnover pathways as separate problems requiring separate solutions. Furthermore, findings suggest there may be more policy-amendable variables that can be manipulated in the first year of teaching to prevent leaving than there are to prevent moving, implying that curbing rates of moving to minimize the localized impacts of teacher migration to other schools may be more challenging than reducing rates of leaving the profession.