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Title page for ETD etd-03272017-120345

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Redding, Christopher Hyde
Author's Email Address c.redding@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03272017-120345
Title The Determinants and Consequences of Within-Year Teacher Turnover
Degree PhD
Department Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gary T. Henry Committee Chair
Jason A. Grissom Committee Member
Matthew G. Springer Committee Member
Thomas M. Smith Committee Member
  • Teacher turnover
  • teacher education
  • student achievement
Date of Defense 2017-03-22
Availability unrestricted
A substantial literature has emerged to describe teachers’ systematic labor patterns. A fundamental assumption of this literature has been that teacher turnover occurs between school years. I examine the tenability of this assumption using rich administrative data from North Carolina that enables me to measure teacher turnover not only as an annual event but as occurring at any month throughout the school year. Documenting the teacher turnover that occurs within school year allows for a more complete and accurate picture of how this instability occurs not just between school years, but during the school year as well. Each of the studies of this dissertation, demarcated as chapters, address a different element of within-year teacher turnover.

In the first chapter, I describe the frequency with which within-year teacher turnover occurs and the types of teacher and school characteristics associated with higher levels of this type of turnover that has not been addressed in prior research. I also seek to identify the ways in which within-year turnover patterns resemble or differ from end-of -year turnover. In the second chapter, I conduct survival analysis of novice teachers’ monthly turnover patterns to understand differences in the risk of turnover for different teacher entry pathways and school characteristics. In the third paper, I leverage the within-year teacher turnover measure to better understand how three mechanisms linked to teacher turnover—(1) teacher instability; (2) classroom disruption; (3) replacement teacher quality—harm student achievement.

I find that an average of four percent of teachers turn over during each school year, suggesting that conventional measures of end-of-year turnover underestimate the actual frequency of turnover by as much as twenty-five percent. In line with the extensive research on end-of-year teacher turnover, within-year turnover is not evenly distributed across schools, with teachers who turnover midyear more likely to exit lower-performing schools with higher concentrations of economically disadvantaged students and underserved racial/ethnic minorities. This finding is troubling given evidence from the third chapter that finds within-year teacher turnover to have a negative effect on student achievement in English Language Arts and mathematics.

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