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The High School Journal 86.1 (2002) 1-2

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Darrell Cleveland, Ph.D.
Holy Family College

Presently school districts throughout the United States are experiencing a massive and growing teacher shortage. These shortages are especially critical in large urban school districts and rural districts. Many factors contribute to this crisis, which in turn produce other classroom challenges. Ingersoll (1999) found 42 percent of teacher departures are due to job dissatisfaction, the desire to pursue another career, or improved career opportunities in or out of education. Ingersoll (1999) also noted that teachers in high-poverty and urban public schools depart because of job dissatisfaction, student discipline problems, lack of student motivation, lack of support from school/district administration, low salaries, and lack of influence over decision-making. Teacher shortages will continue due to increased school enrollment, high retirement rates, shifting urban demographics, and higher standards for teacher certification (Hidalgo, 1985). In his annual State of American Education Address, U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley (2000) stated, "We need over two million teachers in the next ten years. We have a growing shortage of teachers in several critical fields including math and science . . . ."

Teacher attrition in the Unites States is a serious problem that must be addressed through the recruitment and retention of quality teachers. Presently the majority of retention research addresses factors that cause teachers to leave. Despite many negative factors that cause teachers to leave, some teachers remain in the teaching profession. This special issue of The High School Journal will focus on the retention of teachers.

The articles that follow will explore teacher retention. In the first article, Tamara Lucas and Jennifer Robinson share findings from a cohort of freshmen who show an interest in teaching. This study's short-term goal was to identify freshmen who want to become teachers and provide them with a supportive environment to meet the long term goals of the study, to retain them in the university setting and in teacher education.

Beginning teachers are placed in the most demanding situations where they are left to sink or swim. In addition, beginning teachers are [End Page 1] placed in the least favorable situations and receive minimal resources. "Too many new teachers are initiated into a profession that too often sets them up to fail" (Weiss, 1999, p.869). Pamela Angelle documents the socialization experiences of beginning teachers in effective and less effective middle schools and assesses the quality of mentoring in these schools to determine its role in teacher retention.

In the third article, Richard Milner, drawing on the work of Bandura, suggests that self-efficacy and persistence can help mitigate teacher attrition. Factors that impact self-efficacy include positive feedback from parents, students, other teachers and administrators. The author notes that teachers who receive constructive feedback to enhance their confidence cite its impact on their decision to stay or leave the teaching profession.

In the fourth article, Cecil Fore, III, Christopher Martin, and William N. Bender document the retention and attrition of special education teachers. Although the overall teacher shortage in the U. S. is a national crisis, the retention of special education teachers is even at a more critical stage. In addition to math and science, special education is a critical high needs area for schools across the country. Not enough individuals are majoring in special education and those who do become certified in special education leave the classroom at higher rates than general education teachers. The authors offer suggestions on how to recruit and retain special education teachers.

In the fifth article, Kathleen Topolka Jorissen summarizes a qualitative study conducted in a Midwestern suburban school district. This study focuses on the retention aspect of the teacher shortage problem by examining "alternate route" teachers' experiences of professional integration during the preparation and induction years of their careers. In particular, the study sought to identify elements of their experience that contributed to their job satisfaction and decisions to remain in teaching. The theoretical framework that provided the context for the study was that of professional integration as a determinant of satisfaction.

In the concluding piece, Janine...


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